It can be scary to move from elementary school to middle school.
Just ask Jared Buhanan-Decker, a school counselor at Midvale Middle. Everything from being in a different building to meeting a host of new teachers can be hard for kids. It’s Buhanan-Decker’s job to make it easier.
“Two of the biggest things I’ve found kids are afraid of are lockers and PE,” Buhanan-Decker says. “So we talk about those things and take them head on.”
To help ease students’ sometimes-painful transition out of elementary school, all of the middle schools in Canyons District will be hosting a half-day fifth-grade orientation on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Students who will enter sixth-grade next year will go to their prospective middle schools for the orientation and lunch, and then return to their schools.
Fittingly, as school counselors play a vital role in student success amid such changes, this week, Feb. 3-7, 2014, also marks National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association.
At Midvale Middle, Buhanan-Decker and Principal Frank Schofield also have been working hard to get ready to have parents and students involved with the advanced-learner magnet program, which is called SALTA (Supporting Students Toward Advanced Achievement), come to a special orientation Thursday night. They plan to guide the students through registration, introduce them to the school’s administration and let them know how school counselors can help with problems. But they also will point out all of the things that make middle school a fun and growing experience, with demonstrations from a variety of after-school clubs, teams, dance, choir, theater and band.
“A lot of it is to get them excited to see there are a lot of fun things about being in a middle school,” Buhanan-Decker says.
As school counselors, Buhanan-Decker and his colleagues work with students to give them the support they need to be successful. Counselors help students plan to be college-and career-ready, give them curriculum guidance, provide responsive services and system support such as coordinating care for students if their basic physical needs are not being met.
National School Counseling Week highlights the positive and preventative impact counselors have on students.
“School counselors are actively engaged in helping students examine their abilities, strengths, interests and talents,” the American School Counselor Association says about National School Counseling Week. “Professional school counselors are certified, experienced educators with a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. The combination of their training and experience makes them an integral part of the total educational program.”