By Guest Blogger Kelly Heritage, High School Counselor
Perhaps thinking back upon your high school years stirs up nostalgia, fond thoughts of friends, fun, and days our adult-selves would certainly label “care-free.” Or maybe those adolescent years were so tumultuous, you shudder when your mind revisits those high school halls. Regardless of your experience, I think we can all agree that those four years were sprinkled with their share of awkward moments.
Now take all of that typical teenage angst and add a learning difference or two. This is what our high school students at Noble Academy face daily. So, how do I, as a professional school counselor, meet students where they are…daily fighting to figure out who they are and what that means for their relationships, their learning, and their futures? My counseling philosophy aligns well with tenets of our school’s framework, The Noble Academy Way.
Noble Academy operates on the foundation of five steps that we believe inspire growth and build great futures in our students.
Those steps are:
Individual Growth: Students become self-confident and responsible when given opportunities to succeed in the classroom, the arts, and extracurricular activities.
Organization: Students who are taught self-advocacy and executive functioning skills can become successful lifelong learners.
Support: Students thrive when taught in a nurturing and respectful environment where their diversity, dignity, and unique learning styles are valued.
Preparedness: The growth of the whole child is the shared responsibility of parents and faculty and staff.
Though our comprehensive school counseling program incorporates all of these steps, two areas in which I function most often are Support and Preparedness. My mission as a professional school counselor is to empower all students to challenge themselves to meet their fullest potential. If I have helped a student to believe he/she is a valued individual with something important to share with the world, I believe I have done my job. Our students are unique! They are kind, generous, and thoughtful as well as rebellious, moody, and stubborn. They have great successes and make big mistakes. They are thinkers, dreamers, and doers. They are athletes, artists, and technological wizzes. They are SMART and CAPABLE. And they deserve to feel that way, even though they do not learn in the same ways that most traditional high school students do.
Alongside our amazing teachers, I provide support for students’ emotional, social, and academic needs. I offer this through individual and group counseling, consultation, mediation, and classroom guidance. For example, I worked with a small girls’ group weekly last semester that discussed relevant issues. Through team building activities, games, music, art, and conversation, we addressed a different topic each week. One goal of our time together was to learn and practice appropriate ways to interact socially—by actively listening and learning to respect diverse opinions. We also worked on identifying and expressing emotions and developing personal ways to cope, skills essential to navigating the landscape of adolescence.
We seek to build our students’ preparedness in a variety of ways. One part that I focus on is post-secondary planning. This begins as early as junior high, when students begin exploratory activities, providing exposure to all types of careers. Noble Academy is designed to prepare students for continued education following high school. For many that is a four-year college or university. For others this could be a community or technical college. I am passionate about walking alongside students as they explore their own strengths, interests, abilities, and aptitude, using those as their guides in researching potential post-secondary educational settings and career options. Because we value each of our students as individuals, there is no one right path in this process. My role also involves guiding students through the college placement test process.
The Noble Academy Way provides a thorough framework for students, parents, and faculty as we partner to ensure successful futures for our students. I am so grateful to be a part of a school community that cares so deeply about the lifelong success of our students!
*Sponsored by Noble Academy