The percentage of a student’s week day spent in school, I am sure, comes a close second only to the percentage of time they spend sleeping. For me, this means so many of their opportunities to grow, academically and personally, happen in school hallways, cafeterias, classrooms and bus lines. As educators (and I include teachers, school administrators, parents, bus drivers, the school counselor…and the list goes on) we must make character building, practical life skills, and healthy emotional development part of our lesson plan. Our kiddo’s most definitely need to gain academic and occupational skills. In addition they need to gain appropriate communication and relationship building skills. We need to promote the strengthening of positive character traits; trustworthiness, respect for oneself and others, citizenship, and responsibility. Obviously, I may be bias, but counselors really are the best prepared to support students in these areas.
Many of you may be reading this and thinking this is not something I don’t already know, of course these things are all important. My concern is this, how many schools have a resources to support their students in this way? A great number of our schools, public and private alike, do not have a campus counselor, and by campus counselor I mean in addition to the academic counselor. With a lot more frequency these days I am noticing schools with Deans of Discipline, or other disciplinary administrators on their campuses, and my heart breaks. I can’t help but feel these administrators are many campuses answer to student’s poor behavior choices…because they’re not sure how else to handle them. Perhaps I’ve got it wrong. Maybe these administrators are indeed assisting with preventative measures, providing counseling and character building strategies; connecting with their students to gain an understanding the issues at hand. If this is the case….geez…labels are so important, and Deans of Discipline everywhere are in desperate need of re-branding.
Our kids spend most of their day in school. Beginning with their first experience on a school’s campus, they begin to stretch their metaphorical wings, test limits, strengthen communication skills and gain important character values. They begin to develop decision making skills, acquire attitudes towards academic subjects, other students, their teachers and themselves. It is our job to set them up for success, and that begins with enriching their everyday educational experience with every opportunity for positive growth possible.