In between being attentive in school, being involved with sports or activities and balancing relationships with family and friends, it can be overwhelming being a high school student. However, there are a number of teams designed to give advice to students and help guide them in their academic or social endeavours.
Student services is compiled of counselors, deans and social workers, and their job is to to help any problem a student may have outside of the classroom. The team a student may have varies on their last name. Typically, each individual team of staff members includes one dean, two counselors, and one social worker. Each member has a different specified job to assist in a number of scenarios a student may have.
Linda Vecchie, dean of students, works with parents and students about discipline and attendance. In addition, deans also may listen to students other situations that are troubling them.
“We deal with a lot of peer problems,” she said. “If it turns into behavior that’s harming somebody else’s school day, that’s when we will step in.”
Since student services is comprised of three different teams, there are many similarities the jobs share.
“I’m not a certified therapist, but sometimes if a kid needs a couple of minutes and they just need to vent, they can do that.”
Sarah Winfrey is another staff member on the team, but her job is slightly different. As a counselor, she can meet with students about classes, whether it be concerns or seeking advice. To aid to students’ needs, one must fit certain criteria.
“I think that it’s important to be a good listener, to have a kind heart, and to be a good communicator,” she said.
As with all jobs, there are advantages and disadvantages. Just because someone is a staff member, does not necessarily mean that they will be with students as much a normal classroom teacher.
“I feel like sometimes I spend a lot of time on the computer as opposed to meeting with students [as in] scheduling and emailing,” Winfrey said.
However, being a counselor has given Winfrey opportunities to become more involved with students’ teams and different groups offered to students.
“I coached sophomore volleyball for two or three years, but I did have that interaction with kids and saw them in a different way outside of my office or in the school halls. I get to work with kids all throughout the building which I enjoy,” she said.
Another component of the team are the social workers. Social workers such as Megan Sayre are there for many students who may be going through any rough situations or problems, whether it be just a one-time conflict or a recurring challenge. This team of social workers work with students on an intense, emotional level. At times, not only can it be difficult for the student to discuss his or her scenarios and thoughts, but it can also be a bit stressful for social workers.
On the other hand, it is extremely gratifying to be able to reflect on the progress made from the beginning to end of the problem.
“For as many times a student may walk in and be angry at life and not making any changes, just as often as that, there are students who walk in and say ‘thank you, here’s how I’m doing today’ and I get to see the progress. That’s always really helps,” Sayre said.
With the inviting atmosphere at North, many claim that it is easy to just be yourself and to have fun because many are acceptive of each other’s different personalities and talents. This is also the case with students visiting the social worker.
“Overall, I walk down the hallway and students that I see say hello to me in front of their friends. I’ll walk through the cafeteria and people will come up to me to say hi, and it’s not such a bad thing to know the social worker,” Sayre said. “I really like that, since just because you meet with the social worker or any sort of mental health issues doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.”