Student & Parent Handbook
Student Support Services
Guidance and Psychology
Elementary School Counseling Program - Developmental Guidance Curriculum
This aspect of the program encompasses several lessons delivered by the Guidance Counselor in each elementary classroom. At each grade level, a different theme is focused on, aimed at developing children’s skills in self-esteem, communication, and problem solving. During each lesson, children are encouraged to share their experiences and feelings regarding the lesson topic.
In grades two and four, an additional three visits are made to each classroom for the “Good Touches, Bad Touches” Sexual Abuse Prevention Program, which is mandated by the NYS Education Department. This program is delivered in much the same format as the core developmental lessons, with discussions, stories, role-plays, and reinforcement activities.
Counseling Support Services
The opportunity for all students to receive counseling is provided by the school counseling program. Students may be seen individually or in a group depending on their needs. Counseling services are provided by the school psychologist and the guidance counselor. Some group counseling themes include:
- Social Skills - groups aimed at developing social interactions and improving communication.
- Friendship - groups for students who wish to improve their ability to maintain and initiate friendships.
- Self-Esteem - groups for students who need assistance identifying their strengths and improving their confidence.
In each group, children work on sharing their feelings and improving their ability to cope with particular concerns. By working on these skills in a group setting, children learn from each other, attain peer support, establish connections and take comfort in the fact that they are not alone in their concerns. Students may be referred for group counseling through a teacher, a parent, or may initiate participation themselves.
Our Social Skills Program addresses the areas of leadership and social development in young students. Studies have shown that children who fully participate in this program, and have parent support at home, develop better social skills, increased self esteem and an acceptance of peer differences. Under the direction of our school psychologist and guidance counselor lessons are taught to peer mentors and mentees to provide approaches to develop appropriate social cues and behaviors. Students learn to problem solve, discuss how to deal with real life situations and learn how to make and maintain friendships. Character values such as respect, empathy, compassion and kindness all tie in to the social skills program.
Many students seek individual counseling to discuss more private and personal concerns having to do with school, peers, or family. A student may be seen on a short-term basis in order to resolve a particular issue. The counselors explore with the student his or her resources and abilities to cope with the problem. Solutions are discussed and the student is encouraged to try a comfortable solution and report back to the counselor for feedback. At times, a student’s parent, teacher, or peers are involved in the problem solving process. For students requiring individual counseling on a long-term basis, in order to resolve issues beyond the scope of the school, a referral to an outside agency or therapist is recommended.
In situations where parents or teachers may have academic or emotional concerns regarding a student, the counselors assist the parent and/or teacher in developing a plan to help the student function more successfully. The counselor may assist a parent through phone conversations, conferences, or by referring a parent to appropriate resources within the school or community. The counselors consult with teachers weekly through the meetings of the Instructional Support Team (IST).
The counselors are also available to assist teachers, the principal, and parents in dealing with crisis situations that may affect one student or the entire student body. A counselor intervenes by working with students to relieve the high levels of stress, anxiety, and fear that children may feel during a crisis. In any crisis situation, a referral to an outside professional may be necessary and the counselor can assist in facilitating an appropriate referral in the community.
The Role of the School Psychologist
In addition to providing counseling services to students, consultation with teachers and parents, crisis intervention, and IST coordination, the School Psychologist also evaluates students for the Committee on Special Education (CSE). When a student is referred to the CSE, an extensive evaluation is conducted by the psychologist, the learning disabilities specialist, and the speech and language therapist. The psychologist’s evaluation explores the student’s cognitive functioning, perceptual motor integration skills, and emotional functioning.
Five Most Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Guidance and Psychology:
- What is the CST or IST? - The group of professionals previously referred to as the Child Study Team (CST) is now referred to as the Instructional Support Team (IST). The IST of Greenvale is a school-based, problem solving intervention group whose purpose is to assist teachers with students presenting instructional and/or behavioral challenges. The team is made up of classroom teachers, support personnel, and administrators. The team discusses the classroom teacher’s concern, the previous strategies tried, and devises a treatment plan with the goal of improving the student’s classroom functioning. The IST meets weekly to discuss referred students.
- What types of interventions may be suggested during an IST? - Interventions may include an assessment in the child’s area of academic difficulty. This assessment may be done informally through classroom observation or by examining class work and standardized test scores. If standardized test scores or academic performance suggest a learning disability, then a student may be referred to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) for a formal evaluation. Services such as reading workshop, resource room, speech/language, or counseling may be recommended based on the results of an informal or a CSE assessment. Resource, Speech and Language, and Counseling Services may be provided either in the classroom or with a small group of students in a special location. Interventions such as a behavior intervention plan may be devised to help a student control behaviors that may be interfering with his learning or social success. Parent consultation and involvement is an integral part of a successful intervention.
- Who coordinates the IST? - The IST is coordinated by the School Psychologist. The Psychologist or teacher contacts the parents of referred students shortly after the meeting to apprise them of the devised intervention.
- How does a child get referred to IST? - Most frequently, the classroom teacher will contact the psychologist when he/she is in need of an IST for a student. At times, a member of the support staff who works with the student may request a meeting to update the team on a student’s progress, and/or the need for an increase or decrease of service. Any changes in a student’s program are made with parental knowledge and consent.
- What is the difference between “building level” and classified services? - Students presenting academic or behavioral difficulties in the classroom setting which interfere with their learning will qualify for building level services. Children who present more significant academic difficulties and require more extensive intervention can be assessed by the CSE (Committee on Special Education). Special Education classification requires that a student’s educational disability meet specific criteria for one of the eleven possible classifications (e.g.: learning disabled, language impaired, deaf, etc.). Decisions for building level services are made by the IST, whereas Special Education services require the CSE to meet in making all support service decisions. The NYS Education Department provides school districts with mandates that must be followed. When a student is classified by the CSE, an IEP (Individual Education Plan) is compiled to address that individual student’s specific academic needs. The service providers and classroom teacher follow this document in educating this special needs student. Parents are involved in all decision making for both building level and special education services.