CUSD Counselor Spotlight: Shannon Halbert

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 Shannon Halbert, Union High School counselor

Q: How long have you worked in CUSD?

A: 25 years

Q: What role do you play in the MTSS framework? How does this program benefit students in your opinion?

A: I support students on every tier at Union. They come to me first when an issue arises and if they need additional counseling on a regular basis, we refer them out to one of our intervention specialists or our family counselor. It is extremely important to me that each student gets put on the correct path for their mental health journey.

Q: How long have you worked professionally in school counseling? 

A: I started my career at CUSD at Newhart Middle School (which was the best school to begin my career) and was transferred to Union after 10 years and have been here for the past 15 years. I love this site and will stay until I retire if they let me. 😉

Q: What college degrees and professional certifications do you hold?

A: Bachelors of Arts in Liberal Studies, Masters of Science in Marriage Family Therapy, PPS Credential: Pupil Personnel Services Credential

Q: When you were in school, did you have an impactful experience with a counselor?

A: Sadly I did not, that is a reason I wanted to be a counselor. To make sure the students are seen and heard.

Q: How do counselors in CUSD help support one another?

A: When you have been here as long as I have, you create not just working relationships but friendships with other counselors. We have been through some rough times, and always seem to help each other stand back up. When I see them in meetings or at lunches they bring a smile to my face and warmth in my heart. I am so grateful for my counselor friends.

Q: Please add anything additional on any topic not covered in previous questions.

A:What do I, as a school counselor , do on a regular basis? I help students to see their own potential even when they can’t see it themselves. I help parents view their children in a different way so they can grow past their mistakes. I help teachers see that they are not alone and can ask for help with themselves or their students at anytime- and I mean anytime. I help students laugh and cry, and show them there is always an open window when all they can currently see is a closed door. I show students and parents that college is an option even if they thought they would never graduate. I help our principal with whatever she needs, no matter how big or small. I run groups to remind students that they are not alone and have others to turn to. I teach students that depression and anxiety don’t define them and that they are able to get through a bad moment and return to class in a better emotional place. I remind students that they are resilient and capable of conquering even the most difficult situations. I help students who are struggling in a class realize that they can get through the toughest assignments with encouragement and understanding. I teach students that your emotional life can be a barrier to the rest of your life if you don’t embrace it, understand it, and work through it. I remind students that they can still be a huge success even though they have made a lot of mistakes. My students leave knowing that they were the change that needed to happen. They created their own happiness, by being reliable, adaptable, resourceful and driven. They worked tirelessly to create their new selves that can now see how far they have come and where they want to go. I am but one piece of this puzzle. I got into this profession to make a difference, even if it was only for one student. I have been in the Capistrano Unified School District for 25 years now and I am so lucky to be a part of a school and district that sees counselors as a necessary part of education. They understand that a child has multiple sides to them and they cannot do well if we only focus on one aspect. Our school and district have a wonderful comprehensive counseling program that puts me in the classroom teaching Signs of Suicide to our students every year, that gives me time to run multiple groups defined by our student/parent/staff needs assessments, and makes sure that every student matters by going to every classroom and introducing myself to every student. They know they can come see me whenever they, their parents, or a staff member asks. No issue is too small.


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