Counselors explain jobs with students, community

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From left: Kristen Frank, Lauri Waldner and Donna Brooks collaborate on their back to school plans. (Photo by Anna Skinner)

From left: Kristen Frank, Lauri Waldner and Donna Brooks collaborate on their back to school plans. (Photo by Anna Skinner)

By Anna Skinner

School counselors are more than what they seem.

Although some may view a counselor as only speaking to a student when they have a problem or occasionally throughout the year, the counselors at Noblesville Schools accomplish that and so much more.

Donna Brooks, a counselor at Hinkle Creek Elementary, said at the elementary student level, counselors teach social skills as one of the primary lessons for that age group.

“We try to help them manage their emotion, special social skills, and we teach a curriculum that involves teaching students how to focus, listen and manage their own emotions and empathy skills, and complete problem solving,” Brooks said. “We try to be proactive.”

Lauri Waldner, a counselor at West Middle School, said counselors continue teaching those skills through middle school years.

“As that follows up to the middle school level, we also focus on soft skills through a developmental guidance model,” Waldner said. “A big piece of counseling at the elementary and middle school level is curriculum. Guidance counselors are directly involved with teaching kids in classroom.”

Some of the developmental aides that continue through middle school years, but began at the elementary level, include active listening, being a team player and communication.

“Working together helps build curriculum,” Waldner said. “It’s very purposeful the way we plan things.”

Counselors work together so lessons taught at the elementary level will continue through middle school and even high school.

Kristen Frank, a Noblesville High School counselor, said some things students learn through counselors from early years stay with them through high school.

“We see the continuation of the soft skills with their transition into the workplace,” Frank said. “And we still maintain that social, personal counseling that comes through one-on-one sessions with the students.”

All three counseling representatives said they believe children only learn when their emotional needs are met, and that is what the district focuses on.

Brooks said counselors are often not seen as disciplinarians, but a sounding board for the students.

“It’s really about us being that safe place, being a listening ear,” Frank said. “They may not always be comfortable going to mom and dad.”

Waldner continued, saying, “Sometimes students need someone who is not emotionally attached to the issue to help them through their problems.”

The counselors work with more than the students. They correlate with the school, the community, social agencies and more to ensure students are receiving the best education they possibly can.

To learn more about the counselors, visit www.noblesvilleschools.org.

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