Middle School Guidance Counseling

Middle School is a time of constant transformation, with change and growth happening in social and family relationships, bodies, and perspective on the world and oneself. Every day brings increasing exposure to new opportunities and choices. Counseling services may be accessed by student request or referral from teachers, administrators, or parents, and are free of charge.

COUNSELING: Our Counselor is available to help 5-8th grade students and their families healthily navigate through life events, changes and challenges, as well as to help address barriers to learning and academic success.

The Counselor can be helpful with things such as:

  • Social conflicts and mediations
  • Study & organizational skills
  • Test & academic anxiety
  • Strengthening self-esteem
  • Referrals to social service agencies
  • Assessment and referrals for therapy
  • Anger management
  • Coping with overwhelming emotions
  • Adjusting as a new student
  • Coping with family changes
  • Handling loss or death
  • Making healthy choices
  • Social skills
  • Skills for managing stress
  • Supporting IEP/504 goals
  • Transitioning to high school

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT CLASS: The counselor also conducts prevention-based lessons on social, emotional and mental health through a trimester-long Personal Development “Teen Scene” class. Some topics include communication and conflict resolution skills, substance abuse education, stress management, decision-making and respect for diversity. 

PEER MEDIATION: For students in 2-8th grades who would rather have older or same-aged students guide them through conflict resolution instead of involving an adult, a group of well-trained 8th graders are available for Peer Mediation upon request. More intense issues will be referred to the Counselor.

STAFF COLLABORATION: The counselor provides ongoing guidance to staff by collaborating with teachers and administrators on the implementation of effective classroom management and Positive Discipline practices, conducting staff training, and helping facilitate school-wide crisis response and programming, if needed. Consultation occurs regularly with staff to support students’ academic, social and emotional well-being.

PARENT PARTNERSHIP: Counseling, advocacy and education are seen as collaborations with parents, and the counselor makes every effort to maintain regular communication and partnership with families through informational pieces in the Howl, class newsletters, and by conducting Parent Education sessions. 

Some important things to know in regards to our Counseling services, consent, and confidentiality:

  • While receiving support from the Counselor can be a helpful part of a treatment plan for a chronic mental health or behavioral issue, Guidance Counseling is not “Therapy.” Guidance counseling is designed to be short-term and usually focuses on finding solutions for specific problems. If it appears that more in-depth attention is needed to address a student’s needs, the Counselor will assist the family in seeking a referral to an appropriate therapist. 

Since our Middle School Counseling services are an integral component of our holistic education program, parents do not need to give consent for a student to receive services. However, parents will be notified of this contact in

 

Facebook FYI for Parents

This article was written by Kriya last year in response to many parent questions and student mediations that revolved around Facebook.  Here are some things parents should know and suggestions for wise use of these kinds of sites.

13 Year old age minimum. 

Facebook’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” requires account holders be 13 years old. Adhering to this is up to your parental discretion, of course, but do be aware that if Facebook becomes aware that a user is under 13 and/or has provided false information to set up an account, they have said they will promptly delete it. MySpace requires users to be 14 years old.

How should I help my child use this site wisely?

If you permit your child to have a Facebook page, you are strongly encouraged to review Facebook’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” with your child,  and take a tour of your child’s page and their privacy settings with them, interwoven with a larger discussion about Internet safety and your family boundaries re: usage. Remind them to:

§                          Give you access to their page

Make sure that you have your child’s password and/or access to his/her Facebook or MySpace page, and check it regularly for content and activity.

§                          Understand privacy settings

Users are able to limit who can view their profile (e.g. friends of friends, only their approved friends) and to choose who can see specific parts of their profile (e.g., their pictures, contact information, personal favorites, etc.). Facebook automatically limits visibility of information for anyone registered as under 18, so even if a minor has set his or her information as visible to Everyone, they limit it to only Friends, Friends of Friends and Networks (be aware Networks can include large groups of people such as “Asheville.” Minors also do not have public search listings created for them, so they do not appear in outside search engines (vs. how adult profiles can be accessed using a search engine such as Google).

Privacy settings can be accessed by choosing the "Privacy Settings" option from the Account drop-down menu available in the top right corner of any Facebook page.

§                          Remember it is a public venue

Kids tend to forget that when they are making a comment on someone’s wall, in their own “status,” or about someone’s photo, it is available for often hundreds of people to see. Remind them that this is not the place for personal conversations, that they should be aware of offensiveness, and that comments viewed as harassing or intimidating may put them in violation of cyberbullying laws and warrant police reporting. Comments implying threat or self harm may also result in alarm from others and possible reports to police. Have them imagine that they are standing on stage in front of their “friend” as well as all the friend’s friends, family, some teachers, and hundreds of others – would they still make that comment or have that conversation?

§                          Adult Content

There are a growing amount of fun appropriate games and activities for kids to play on Facebook. But our kids also have access to adult-targeted content on Facebook that many parents would find inappropriate, such as “fun” surveys and questionnaires that ask sexually-related questions, violent themed games such as Mafia Wars or surveys such as “Ways to Die,” and many interest groups that can be joined that have adult themes. Set clear boundaries for what your child can involve themselves in, and check up on their activity.

§                          Report abusive behavior directly to Facebook

Facebook encourages users to report offensive profiles, messages, groups, events, shares, notes and photos. Abusive behavior can be reported in the same place it occurs on Facebook. For example, there is a “Report” link next to the sender’s name with every private message they receive in their Inbox. If they receive a harassing message they just need to click the "Report" link. Similar “Report” links are found on all pages (groups, events, photos etc). Reports are confidential and the user being reported does not know that they have been reported. Facebook claims that reported items are then reviewed by Facebook administrators and removed if deemed in violation of their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.Reporting a message as harassing will also automatically add this person to their “Block” list (see below). They can also use the "Report/Block person" link that appears at the bottom of the abusive user's profile. Facebook also encourages users to report fake profiles (which violate usage rules) and any messages or profiles that look suspicious.

§                          Block anyone that might be sending unwanted content

If your child receives inappropriate or abusive communication, you can block the person by listing his or her name, or email address in the "Block People" fields at the bottom of the Block List page. They can also use the "Report/Block person" link that appears at the bottom of the abusive user's profile. A block prevents specific people from viewing their profile. When they block someone, all Facebook ties are severed, and this person will no longer be able to find your child in a search, view their profile or send them a message. You can visit this page at any time by navigating to the "Privacy Settings" option in the Account drop-down menu available from the top of every page. 

§                          Accept Friend Requests Safely

Encourage your kids to accept friend requests only from people they know in real life. Only “confirmed” friends can post to their Wall or contact them via Facebook Chat, so if they are worried that someone will make inappropriate posts or send offensive messages, they should just ignore that person's friend request. 

§                          Never share their password with anyone

This opens up the possibility for others to abuse their Facebook page or potentially harass them. No child ever thinks it’s possible that their friends would do this, but it happens.

A note about Cyberbullying:

Cyberbullying is defined as the use of any new technology to harass or intimidate someone, or encourage others to do the same. New strict laws have actually now made cyberbullying a 2nd degree misdemeanor in North Carolina for minors.

View the law here:  www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H1261v4.pdf

Encourage them not to “befriend” people that they have conflicts with or dislike, as it just sets the stage for inappropriate communication. Make use of Block and reporting features, as well as the ability to simply “unfriend” someone at any time. 

Discourage your child from responding to someone’s nastiness with more of the same via Inbox, a Wall post, or Facebook Chat, but instead reporting it to you, and printing the communication, in case you will want to use it in discussion with other children’s parents, the school (see below), or police.

Evergreen’s Rights and Responsibilities Re: Facebook (and other Social Networking sites)

Students are blocked from accessing Facebook and other social networking sites through school computers. Though some have discovered that their own laptops or other handheld technology (some phones, i-pads etc.) can access them on campus, this is also not allowed. If cyberbullying or harassment takes place on campus, the school will respond with disciplinary procedures which may include removal of technology privileges, and may warrant our reporting to the police. If an incident is brought to our attention that occurred off campus, we have the right to respond through our disciplinary procedures only if the incident is seen as significantly disruptive to the learning environment. In any event, we still believe it is our responsibility to inform parents of the incident, and to have our counselor (if Middle School) attempt to meet with students to mediate the conflict and prevent escalation, disruption, and law violation. We also have the right to report off-campus incidences that violate cyberbullying laws to the police.

Evergreen Educating Students

Our Technology teacher Kevin Smith has covered the topics of Facebook privacy settings, Internet Safety and Etiquette with the students in 5th-8th grade.

Websites with valuable information on Cyberbullying and Internet Safety in general: 

§                          stopcyberbullying.org.

§                          Childnet-int.org

§                          ConnectSafely.org

§                          NetSmartz.org

§                          OnguardOnline.gov

§                          WebWiseKids.org

§                          WiredSafety.org

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