The Temple Independent School District joins the education community across the country in celebrating our school counselors during National School Counseling Week Feb. 1-5. These specialized educators play a critical role in any campus team and are recognized annually in the first week of February.
School counselors wear a lot of hats and often act as liaisons between any combination of students, teachers, administrators, parents, institutions of higher education and social service providers to support students’ academic, social and emotional wellbeing. They rely on the opportunity to connect with and observe students in a traditional school setting — something that campuses have not seen consistently since Bell county began to feel the effects of COVID-19 last spring.
Emilio Olivares, the district’s coordinator for student intervention and response, oversees 21 school counseling professionals in Temple ISD. He says counselors had to adapt to support students this year.
“Right before school started this year, all the counselors were to reach out to their students who they considered to have high needs,” Olivares said. “The reached out to check in with them because so much time had elapsed since they were last in a traditional school environment.”
In the spring of 2020, Temple ISD released students for Spring Break on March 6 and, due to precautions taken during the rise of the pandemic, they did not return to physical classrooms for six months.
According to district administrators, counselors are not alone in responding to student needs.
“Teachers are the first line of defense,” said Chernita Kyle, a student intervention specialist and former elementary school counselor for Temple ISD. “They tell an administrator or a counselor what may be going on with a family so the counselor can arrange for some type of support.”
That support varies depending on the need of each individual. Counselors may help refer students to special education programs, assist with college applications, facilitate parent meetings, suggest after school programs, provide contact information for social services or support student mental health.