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December 03. 2012 8:48PM

Derry school counselors move to unified model to serve students

DERRY - Following the lead of teachers in the Derry School District, elementary and middle school guidance counselors have moved to a core mapping model to better provide comprehensive and consistent services to students.

"One of the big ways guidance counselors reach all students is through the educational lessons they teach," said South Range School counselor Kristin Woodworth.

The lessons provided by the guidance counselors help students become academically and socially responsible, she said."We utilize the core maps at each grade to ensure all students receive the same content at similar times throughout the year," said Grinnell Elementary School counselor Kelly Herr.

Herr said the counselors do their best to reach all students, with all school counselors going to every classroom at least once a month.

Working with core mapping standards on what is covered in the classrooms helps provide consistency across the district and helps with the transition between schools, according to Woodworth.

"Core mapping has a huge real benefit to us as counselors," Herr said. "We can plan the lessons we have to do. When I first came into the district, we didn't have the maps and the topics I thought were important were not the topics that other counselors necessarily thought were important. With mapping, we know exactly what we are supposed to be doing and we feel like we are going in the right direction."

In addition to covering classroom lessons that range from bullying to teaching respect, the counselors have many other responsibilities during the course of the day, according to Woodworth. These include creating plans for students who need behavioral assistance, collaborating with local agencies and working with parents and administrators.

At a recent school board meeting, member Dan McKenna asked if the counselors had enough time in the day to get everything they needed to do during the day completed.

"It does take a lot of prioritizing," said Woodworth. "There are things we have to wait to do until after school, such as making phone calls and scheduling."

The counselors' work comes down to making sure students have the tools necessary to succeed academically and socially, according to Herr. "We need to teach students how to make at least one friend," she said. "Studies show that having at least one person can help students be more successful."

aswift@newstote.com

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