National School Counseling Week: A Principal’s Perspective on the Role of a Counselor

    As we recognize school counselors during National School Counseling Week, my thoughts as a high school principal turn to the importance of having a hard-working, multi-tasking, detail-oriented school counselor who makes a difference in our students’ lives and the culture of our campus.

    How, you might ask, does that happen?  For starters, counselors have many roles. They are responsible for: career and college guidance in graduation plans, assisting students through crisis – suicide threats, bullying, homelessness, etc., and any issues surrounding social media. These roles address the heart of the socio-emotional needs of students, and are particularly relevant at the secondary level, where I am a principal.

    Therefore, the security, academics, and culture of the school all have counseling implications.

    Now, from the perspective of our specific campus where data show that 84% of our students receive free-and-reduced lunch and 80% are first time college-attendees in their families, the work of our counselor is expansive.  As an early college, we are embedded on a college campus and we have to organize our master schedule in collaboration with the college.  This is no small task.  Our counselor and teacher teams must plan 416 student schedules, not only for high school, but also for the college dual credit classes. We pride ourselves on the individualization of our student schedules. Our academic performance results substantiate this attention to detail.

    Dr. Lombardi (left) with Tom Land (right), the counselor of Garza Early College High School.

    While designing tailored schedules for students is considered the “heavy lifting” done by our counselor, the highly significant individual counseling work done with students who are suffering from anxiety, depression, or the loss of a significant person in their life is no less important.  Our counselor is the referral entity at our school for both chronic and acute mental health issues, for homeless referrals (if necessary), and for agency referrals for specialized student health needs.

    So, this week is a special one for us to recognize our school counselor for the many “hats” that he wears and to recognize his hard work and accomplishments that advance the amazing culture of our school, and for other schools to do the same for their counselors. We sing your praises today!

    Dr. Janice Lombardi, Principal
    Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College High School at Mountain View College
    Dallas Independent School District
    “College Ready, Career Ready, Life Ready”

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