Dear Parents and Guardians,
The CEMS counseling department would like to welcome our new and returning families to the new school year. As we all know, this year is going to be unlike any other. We hope this letter provides you information about the members of the CEMS counseling department and what supports are available to students, as well as an opportunity for you to share any information regarding your child’s wellbeing during this pandemic. Most importantly, we want you to know that we are here for you and our students. We understand that the pandemic has impacted everyone in different ways and at varying degrees.
Who we are:
The middle school has two full time school counselors, two full time clinical social workers and new this year- a part-time mindfulness director!
Stephanie Royal, School Counselor Grades 5 & 6
Stephanie is a support for all students and parents in grades 5 and 6. She will work with students via classroom social/emotional learning lessons, small lunch groups and individual short-term counseling and check-ins. This fall, Stephanie aims to meet all 5th graders via outside socially distant small group lunches or virtual lunches.
Kim Sturgeon, School Counselor Grades 7 & 8
Kim is available to all 7th and 8th grade students and parents. She also supports students via classroom social/emotional learning lessons, small lunch groups and individual short-term counseling/check-ins. Kim’s goal this fall is to connect with all 7th grade students through virtual lunch groups. Kim will work with 8th grade students, teachers and parents to assist with the transition to the high school.
Sarah Hanson, General Education Social Worker
Sarah works with students in all grades providing individual and group counseling and social/emotional classroom lessons. Sarah also provides executive functioning based lessons to general education classes and offers ongoing support to select students who need more intensive, ongoing executive functioning skill building. Sarah is also the case manager for non-medical section 504 plans.
Suzanne Paule, Special Education Social Worker
Suzanne is filling in for Louise Lynch, who is currently on maternity leave, for the first half of the school year. Suzanne works with special education students who have social work goals as part of their Individualized Education Plans (IEP).
Erica Marcus, Mindfulness Director
Erica was part of a pilot program last year at CEMS providing select teachers training on how to implement mindfulness practices in the classroom. We are fortunate to have her back with us again where she will be focusing on supporting students, staff, and parents in developing practices of self care and self regulation through classroom lessons, parent education, and staff trainings.
Supports for students during the pandemic:
We will be meeting with students most often from a virtual platform (Zoom). Due to the size of our offices, we are not able to practice social distancing with small groups of students. If necessary, we can meet one-on-one with students in our offices but will opt to meet outside or online whenever possible.
Our classroom lessons will be offered as a combination of both in-person and online sessions. We will work with advisors to schedule when those lessons will take place as well as classroom teachers to tie into curriculum whenever possible.
If a student experiences a mental health crisis while physically present in school, we will work to assess the student, call the parent or guardian and more than likely recommend that the parent/guardian contact the statewide mental health crisis line (774-HELP) for further support. In most cases, we will need parents to pick their child up from school very soon after we alert them of the situation.
How you can communicate with us:
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us via phone (799-8176) or email at any point this year. If you have any concerns regarding your child’s social and emotional well-being as we return to school this fall, please email your child’s school counselor or social worker. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about how we can help.
How students can communicate with us:
We will continue to send out a weekly counseling department newsletter to students (that parents will also receive). This will include an optional survey for students to fill out to let us know how they are doing and if they would like a check-in from one of us. We also hope to have sign-ups for virtual lunch groups linked into this newsletter. Finally, students can always email us to set up an appointment.
We look forward to working with you and your children this year!
The CEMS Counseling Department
Stephanie, Kim, Sarah, Suzanne, Louise, and Erica