The first week of February is traditionally recognized as National School Counseling week here in the United States. The purpose of this week is to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems. National School Counseling Week, sponsored by American School Counselor Association (ASCA), highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.
Here at Oasis, we know how important School Counselors are to the daily success of students and families, and we know how hard they are working, now more than ever, to ensure children have healthy goals, healthy mindsets and positive behaviors.
We recently spoke to Kim Baicar, a School Counselor with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, about how she and her colleagues are currently working to help students adjust to a different way of learning since the start of the pandemic. Ms. Baicar said that school counselors have been focusing on the social/emotional needs of our students.
“One strategy I use is to try and normalize their feelings of fear, anger and anxiety because we ALL are feeling those things at this time,” she explained. “Then, I teach them healthy ways to cope with those feelings by focusing on things they do have control over and the many positives in their lives right now,” she added.
Baicar has worked in education for 39 years, and 26 of those have been spent working as a School Counselor. She said her hope is that children will not only use what she is teaching them as a tools to cope with the current learning situation, but also throughout the rest of their lives.
While Ms. Baicar offers what she can to students who might be struggling in school, she also knows the importance of communicating with parents and guardians, and having their support to reinforce these coping strategies during non-school hours. “It takes a team effort between home and school to help our children navigate such uncertain times,” she added.
With many school systems actively working towards re-opening with a hybrid schedule in the coming weeks, we asked Ms. Baicar how school counselors are preparing for students to make yet-another transition from home to abbreviated, socially-distanced in-person learning. She said School Counselors are anticipating that younger children may have separation anxiety after being home with loved ones every day for almost twelve months. She recommends that parents, caregivers and teachers stick to routines as much as possible, because it creates a sense of calmness for children during transitional periods.
Despite the future unknowns, Ms Baicar remains confident that her students and fellow educators will continue to demonstrate resilience and grace for whatever lies ahead. She added, “One thing I do know, School Counselors will be there to help our students, their families, and our staff members, just as we have all along!”
Oasis: The Center for Mental Health would like to recognize all of the dedicated School Counselors during National School Counseling Week, especially in 2021, for their resilience, hard work, and commitment to enriching the lives of school children each and every single day!