Counselors Celebrated for Their Commitment to Students
When members of the Cricket Club at Glendening Elementary collect socks for kids in need or show kindness to other students, the fifth-grade boys are just happy to be making a difference at their school.
What they likely don’t realize is that they are laying a foundation of service and compassion that could shape their future in numerous ways, said school counselor Kari Winhoven, who coordinates the club as well similar clubs for fifth-grade girls at Glendening and a Kindness Club geared to fourth-graders at Groveport Elementary.
Winhoven, like her peers in the counseling departments across the district, develop curricula and projects designed to help kids realize their potential in all aspects of their lives. At the middle school level, counselors are helping students with everything from good study skills to managing friendships. At Groveport Madison High School, counselors are preparing students to become adults and determine their next steps after graduation.
On the practical side, colleges and future employers are looking for people who have experience organizing and participating in service projects, Winhoven said of her efforts to interest kids in helping others. From a personal growth standpoint, these opportunities can help elementary students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, increase their understanding of other cultures and communities, learn more about social issues and improve their communication and leadership skills, she said.
“When the students perform acts of service, they see that—no matter how much or how little they have, they can still find ways to give back to their community and make a difference,” she said. “It’s a real opportunity to learn about others as well as themselves.”
At Middle School South, Counselor Amy Moran also wants students to do some self-discovery. She is in the midst of helping them understand their personal learning styles so they can experience academic success. She is meeting with students to share various ways they can organize their school work and study for tests. She’s encouraging them to try various strategies to see what works best.
Helping students bridge the gap between elementary school and middle school is challenging and rewarding, she said. “I love these kids,” she said. “Middle school is wonderfully awkward. The students’ brains are still very young but their bodies are developing. They just want to be understood.”
GMHS counselor Karen Tolone also enjoys the transformation that takes place in her students. Watching them go from wary ninth-graders trying to find their place in the school to young adults ready to enter the world is exciting, she said.
This year, she and her fellow counselors have a new tool to help students determine their next steps, she said. The District purchased software that offers students and their parents numerous planning tools. The Naviance system allows them to explore and understand career possibilities, learn more about specific colleges and certification programs and submit their transcripts and applications, Tolone said.
“We enjoy helping students on this journey,” she said. “I love working at the high school. It’s amazing to see what our kids accomplish.”