Departments‎ > ‎Pupil Services‎ > ‎

Elementary Counseling & Psychological Services

Philosophy and Goals

Each school in Acton recognizes that children grow and develop at different rates and in different ways. To a greater or lesser extent, children may require assistance and support in adjusting to particular stages of personal, social or cognitive development.

Within each school, the counselor works cooperatively with parents, teachers, administrators and other specialists to provide needed support for students. Our shared goal is to insure a successful school experience for students, one in which they develop a positive sense of self, the skills to interact productively and the maturity to make wise decisions. Through this cooperative effort, we hope that students will be able to utilize their potential in constructive, responsible and satisfying ways.

The Role of the Elementary School Counselor

Direct support to children in the school setting may involve individual and/or group counseling on a weekly, short-term or crisis intervention basis Referrals for counseling services are made by parents, teachers and, sometimes, students themselves. Ongoing counseling requires parental knowledge and permission, whereas a counselor may see a child on a crisis intervention basis without the prior consent of the parents. Issues for counseling cover a broad range. Counseling may encourage age-appropriate social development, help children develop academic confidence or promote understanding of personal/emotional issues.

Just as issues and objectives for counseling vary, so do the methods used to attain those goals. While some sessions might be oriented toward discussion or problem solving, still others might utilize group games and activities, role playing or play therapy techniques. Regardless of the objectives or techniques involved, the counselor creates an atmosphere which focuses on the strengths of individual students. We feel that growth and change are achieved through empowering children, helping them to draw from their strengths in order to realize their potential.

Consultation with parents, teachers, specialists and administrators is valuable in assessing a student's needs and planning an appropriate course of action. Each counselor consults regularly with staff in his/her building to coordinate services provided to students. In addition to regularly scheduled planning meetings, the counselor consults with parents, teachers and administrators on an "as needed" basis. When appropriate, the counselors may observe children in the school setting to provide information to teachers and/or parents regarding the child's school behavior and attitude.

Similarly, the counselors are available to serve as a resource to teachers by providing ideas for developmental classroom units, activities or discussions in the area of affective development. Some activities may serve as part of the regular classroom curriculum which help children to build self-esteem, problem solving skills, friendships, and social/emotional skills. Others may be developed in response to a particular need or situation in a particular classroom group.

Parents are encouraged to discuss concerns with the counselor in order to gain perspective concerning behaviors and developmental issues. The counselor has extensive experience with the therapeutic community in and around Acton and maintains a list of resources outside of the school setting for families to utilize, if they so choose.

The counselor is also involved in TEAM EVALUATIONS FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION and Section 504 eligibility. He/She participates in meetings of the Child Study Team (an interdisciplinary team which discusses and plans for the needs of individual students), administers individual tests of cognitive ability, conducts parent interviews, and collects data for attention/concentration issues. While counseling is a regular education service available to all students, it may be included as a part of the Individualized Educational Plan for students receiving special education services.

The counselor is a CHILD ADVOCATE and works within the school system to promote those policies and programs which will be most likely to help students grow personally, socially, and cognitively. Participation in a variety of individual school and systemwide meetings, committees and gatherings provides opportunities to promote the fundamental counseling philosophy within our district.

Maintaining communication between the schools and various community services and agencies is another important function of the counselor. Updated relevant community information can then be made available to parents by each school counselor

The Role of the School Psychologist

Each elementary school has a part-time School Psychologist who serves on the Special Education Team to identify students with social/emotional and learning needs who are eligible for Individualized Educational Plans. They are available for teacher consultation and crisis intervention.

Counselors

Each of the elementary school counselors has at least a Master's Degree in School Counseling and additional training and experience in the field.

Please feel free to call us at your child's school.
Acton-Boxborough Schools: 978.264.4700

School Counselors:

Hilary Bonnell, Douglas School & Chairperson of Elementary Counseling
Jennifer Burke, Gates School
Debbie Dawson, Conant School
Gail Walsh, Blanchard School
Katie Turner, Merriam School
Kerri Tomlin, McCarthy-Towne

School Psychologists:

Carolyn Imperato, McCarthy-Towne & Merriam Schools
Evelyn Harriott, Douglas and Conant Schools
Nancy Ferraro, Conant and Gates Schools
Christine Garcia, Blanchard School

Help and Advice:

Successful Homework Habits