Archive » October 25, 2012
Guidance department sees changes
By SaraLloyd Truax, Staff Writer
To keep the board apprised of all school activities, each department at the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District makes annual presentations. This month it was the guidance department that stepped up to the plate.
Facing drastic cuts in the number of school dollars available, the board offered local teachers early retirement incentives last year in the hope of keeping pink slips at bay. One retiree came from the guidance department.
Down an important member, counselors and staff at the high school have had to reorganize how they go about ensuring students receive the guidance they need – whether it is preparing to move on to a four-year college, becoming employment ready or addressing personal issues.
Head counselor Jon Morris led the discussion by introducing the staff, who are now assigned to students alphabetically, advising the same students throughout their tenure as Pirates. Danielle Lageman assist students whose last names begin with the letters A-G, and she also serves as the SAT/PSAT coordinator for the school.
Morris attends the H-O crowd, while Alfonso Gonzalez serves students P-Z. Gonzales also acts as the English language learners counselor and teacher for the new academic mentor program.
Mandy Ganz is assigned to Refugio High School during its morning secessions and in the afternoon serves the at-risk community at Santa Ynez. The first order of business, Ganz says, is figuring out who they are, “some are at the AP level and are otherwise high-functioning kids.”
The counselors receive assistance from Elysia Lewis and Kathy Rick, guidance technicians, along with Melissa Shaw, the Guidance Specialist. “As we move along, we are defining roles more and more,” said Morris.
Their stated mission is to inform and help prepare students for post-high school education, in addition to helping them work through any social, emotional or academic issues that may arise. This can be accomplished, says Morris, by working with students one-on-one or, when appropriate, including parents or teachers in the process. Additionally, the counselors have long-standing working relationships with many colleges and community members who can be reached out to on a case-by-case basis.
Guidance staff continues to attend workshops and conferences so they are better able to keep pace with the latest information. Working together as a group, they can support each other and share ideas.
Communicating those ideas with parents may take several different shapes, says Morris: from mailings and other media to parent, group or even individual meetings. The first such meeting was held in September for parents of seniors and another for sophomores in October. Parents who missed these meetings may contact the guidance department for more information.
Parent meetings for juniors will be held on Jan. 16, and for freshmen on Feb. 6, 2013. There are two meetings scheduled for current eighth graders: the first in English on Feb. 27; the second on Feb. 28 will be in Spanish.
Check the school’s website, says Morris, for dates and time of the financial aid night and cash for college discussions. Registration for the next academic year will begin in March 2013. The senior awards evening will take place May 9.
Naviance (“as in navigate,” explains Morris) is a computer software program the school is using to help students to keep track of where they are in their academic plan for where they hope to be down the road. Each student is given an individual account and taught how to use and access it.
For more information on the Naviance program, see “Navigating the road to college with Naviance” (Feb. 24, 2011, Valley Journal).
Students were advised of the guidance department’s procedures at the start of school. Throughout year, counselors make many short visits to classrooms to update the teens on various topics. Additionally, once grade reports come out, those in danger of failing will be called in individually so that plans can be made to resolve the difficulty.
The department also reminded students to keep their eyes open for scholarship opportunities and to make their requests for letters of recommendation or the sending of transcripts early.
Other programs including academic mentors, Transcript Evaluation Service – a pilot program to the University of California, catalyst SAT boot camp and the avid program were also briefly described.
The counseling department is also where the entire academic community turns in the event of a crisis. It has been more than 10 years since its last training, and though they applied for grant for updated training, it was denied. They plan to petition again in January.
Because whatever the needs of the students at the high school are, the guidance department is doing their best to meet them or to be able to direct students and families in the direction of the help they need. email@example.com