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School Counseling Program

Saint Joseph School employs a licensed School Counselor who is responsible for implementing a comprehensive school counseling program based on the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) National Model. The central role of the School Counselor is to promote student success by supporting students with academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. This is done by providing direct services: classroom curriculum, small group counseling, individual student planning, and short-term counseling. Additionally, indirect services such as outside referrals for long-term support, collaboration with parents, teachers, administration, and outside clinicians, and advocacy for students in meetings are provided.
 
Parents who are concerned about their child should reach out to our School Counselor, Megan McShane, at ext. 135 or by email: mmcshane@saintjoes.com
Preschool, Pre-K, and Kindergarten
In Pre-K basic social skills are taught using the "We Thinkers" curriculum. Topics discussed include: Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings, The Group Plan, Thinking with you Eyes, Expected and Unexpected Behavior, and Whole Body Listening.
Basic safety is introduced using Second Steps: Child Protection Unit to both Pre-K and Kindergarten with the help of Ms. McShane's beloved side-kick, Puppy the puppet. 
 
Through individual checks-ins and snack groups more individualized social, emotional, and behavioral interventions are provided.
 
Grades 1-5
Tier 1 programming includes classroom lessons, some in the moment if teachers express their class is experiencing a challenge others have been developed through observations patterns of needs in certain grade levels. Basic Safety is continued in grade 1 using the Second Step: Child Protection Unit.  Grade 2 is a key time to intervene in the elementary year as social independence begins to grow so classroom lessons focus on social skills and self-regulation. Using the Social Thinking curriculum: The Social Detective in the fall. The winter we transition into self-regulation using the curriculum Hunter and his Amazing Remote Control. Grade 4 focuses on bullying prevention using the Boston vs. Bullies curriculum. Grade 5 focuses on kindness and gratitude using the Erase Meanness challenge and gratitude journals. Throughout the school we participate in the Sandy Hook Promise: Start with Hello week. 
 
Tier ll programming includes small group counseling through weekly lunch groups led by Ms. McShane for grades 1 - 5, each groups lasts about 8-12 weeks to allow for rapport building. In group students play games (some hand made by Ms. McShane), complete mindfulness exercises, crafts that promote self-esteem, understanding emotions, listening skills, and sometimes we just chat the entire time.
 
One on one check-ins with students as needed based on a child's ever-changing needs. There is consultation and collaboration with parents, teachers, and professionals on a child's team. Development of behavior plans can help support a child facing some challenges in the classroom.
 
Tier lll interventions include one on one intervention with students based on that child's unique needs. Through developing relationships in the community outside referrals may be made, working with a student's IEP team, consultation and collaboration with outside clinicians.
 
Grades 6-8
The middle school years are very important to a child's personal development. Consequently, a main focus of the Counseling Office is to support the social, emotional, and academic growth of the students.
 
Individual counseling centers on specific issues of concern. Parents, teachers, and students may initiate referrals. The School Counselor will consult with parents if there is to be regular contact. Counseling topics include:
  • Peer acceptance and conflict
  • Self-image and self-esteem
  • Academic achievement, goal setting, learning issues, study skills
  • Family issues-separation, divorce, new sibling, remarriage, adoption, moving, job loss, illness
  • Bereavement and loss
  • Anxiety, phobias, self-destructive behavior, and substance abuse
  • Group counseling brings small groups of students together to strengthen social connections or to assist students in dealing with problems.
  • Lunch groups- informal social interactions to expand and strengthen peer relationships
  • Conflict resolution- helping students solve problems through small group interaction
  • Problem solving- helping students work collaboratively to come up with solutions to a shared problem
  • Personal Development Education
Part of the School Counselor's role involves educating groups of students about developmental issues and life skills in the classroom setting or in conjunction with the health curriculum. Topics include:
  • Middle school transition issues/ moving on to high school
  • Physical, emotional and intellectual changes of early adolescence
  • Coping strategies/ stress management/ problem solving techniques
  • Interpersonal relationship skills/communication
  • Academic Monitoring and Support