In celebration of National School Counseling Week, CUSD Insider is showcasing proﬁles of the fantastic counselors we have throughout the District.
Today we are highlighting Alexandra Vargas, Esencia K-8 counselor.
Q: How long have you worked in CUSD?
A: 9 years
Q: Describe your role in supporting student success at your school or in your department.
A: As the one full-time counselor on campus, along with our part-time counselor Mr. Soto, I coordinate all guidance lessons TK-8, run counseling groups, middle school academic interventions, middle school parent conferences, and individual counseling for our 160+ students referred. We support programs such as PBIS, MTSS, 504s plans, and various schoolwide programs. We communicate with families, teachers and administrators daily.
Q: What role do you play in the MTSS framework? How does this program benefit students in your opinion?
A: I help run the Student Intervention Team (SIT) through which all of our students come before going to FSPP, SST, or assessment. We work together with our MTSS specialists at middle and elementary to determine next steps for academic, behavior and social/emotional interventions for all of our over 1200 students. These meetings benefit our students because no one is overlooked and everyone gets that tailored support based on what they specifically need.
Q: How long have you worked professionally in school counseling?
A: 9 years- I have only worked in Capo! I started at Oso Grande and Reilly Elementary schools, and have worked at LRMS and now Esencia K-8.
Q: What college degrees and professional certifications do you hold?
A: Masters of Counseling at Chapman and Bachelors in Psychology from UCLA. I also have a degree in Developmental Psychology and did my coursework and fieldwork hours in Clinical Counseling. I am working on my administrative credential.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about counseling work?
A: Right now I am loving the fact that seeking support for mental health is so normalized. I love being a part of the school community and not an ancillary service. It is rewarding to see students learning from some of the lessons we provide to help each other, especially when it involves speaking up about their friends struggling with their mental health and really needing to get support to cope. Being at a K-8 also allows me to see amazing student growth and progress over the years from kindergarten to middle school!
Q: When you were in school, did you have an impactful experience with a counselor?
A: When I was growing up I didn’t know any of my schools had counselors. I felt invisible to high school staff which made me want to be the counselor I didn’t feel like I had- someone who would notice the kids that fly under the radar and acknowledge them for their unique qualities and strengths, and then be welcoming for them when they might need support.
Q: How do counselors in CUSD help support one another?
A: CUSD counselors are resourceful and are always sharing what they find useful with one another. One of the most helpful ways we support each other is through planned time to collaborate, whether through virtual check-ins, or during our meetings when he have time to connect and share what struggles we are facing and what solutions we’ve tried to overcome them.
Q: What is the one thing you would want families to know about your role in student success that they might not be aware of?
A: I am always thinking about what is best for your student. I use careful consideration in my decision making to always be advocating for students and want to work as team to support your child in reaching their goals. Some of the goals I have for your student(s) include positive mental well-being, being respectful and responsible citizens and having empathy for others. I strive to work with all our school staff and our whole community to help achieve that!
I am so proud to be a school counselor, and I always welcome feedback/questions about my role/conversations about how I can help in any way!