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Observance week honors school counselors

MADISON – National School Counseling Week during Feb. 5-9 honored the important caregivers who guide students through curriculum, career goals and stress.

The 2018 theme is “School Counselors: Helping Students Reach for the Stars,” according to Cindy Davis, Madison City Schools Grant Administrator.

National School Counseling Week emphasizes counselors’ special contributions in U.S. schools. The observance raises awareness about counselors’ roles in helping students reach successful goals in academics and career intentions. (schoolcounselor.org)

Counselors in Madison’s elementary schools are Stephanie Allen, West Madison; Ashley Claborn, Mill Creek; Stefanie Cook, Madison elementary; Cindy Perry, Columbia; Macy Smith, Heritage; Becky Thompson, Rainbow; and Jennifer Walker, Horizon.

Middle school counselors are Kelle Moody at Discovery and Karen Clayton at Liberty.

High school students at Bob Jones work with Johnny Fowler, Sonja Griffith, Pam Hendrix and Kathryn Champion. Carol Torrello is counselor for The Academy. James Clemens’ counselors are George Cruz, Heather Porter, Rosalyn Smith and Lana Meskunas.

Sonja Griffith is serving in her first year as counselor at Bob Jones. She taught Spanish at Madison and Rainbow elementaries while finishing a master’s degree in counseling at University of West Alabama.

“Every Bob Jones student has a ‘Four-Year Plan,’ starting in eighth grade. The plan confirms that the student has taken all classes needed to graduate” and courses related to a career of interest.

“You can take a class to find out what you don’t like — as much as what you do like,” Griffith said.

“The curriculum at Bob Jones and James Clemens is like a small college,” Griffith said. In a typical day, Griffith may meet with career prep classes and discuss subjects they want to study. College-bound students will want to enroll in classes that prepare them for the ACT. Career-oriented students can plan for classes at Calhoun Community College, for example.

Counselors also listen and offer comfort to students enduring stress. “This morning, I spoke with a student whose grandfather was near death. One student had studied the wrong words for a spelling test,” Griffith said. A counselor also deals with suicide assessment and a student facing self-harm.

Griffith works with freshmen through seniors with last name P-Z. “You get to know students and the family and make those connections. It helps,” she said.

“We will have a ‘Coffee with the Counselor’ session on Feb. 27 at 7:30 a.m. at Bob Jones to talk about four-year educational plans and diploma requirements,” Griffith said.

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