By Kelly Fator
Capistrano Unified School District counselors are doing all they can to support students during these unprecedented times.
From innovative technologies to online seminars, CUSD counselors are pulling out every stop for students to feel heard and seen. Counselors are finding ways to make students feel more comfortable on campus as well as being a listening ear in times of trouble.
Learn more about the tremendous impact they have on ensuring students achieve school success in this video!
Staff and students celebrated counselors during National School Counseling Week with surprise goodies.
In August, CUSD welcomed 47,000 students back to campus in virtual classes. Counselors stepped up with creative responses to the pandemic challenges. The district developed an online platform that features virtual counselor office spaces full of Bitmoji cartoon versions of counselors. The offices can be visited by both students and parents online. Counselors have used the software to make their virtual offices an inviting space for students, with some even including calm down centers. There are also mindfulness exercises, digital books and inspirational messages for students.
Before resuming in-person classes, CUSD held an hour-long webinar titled “Strategies for School Anxiety and Refusal,” in which 10 district counselors led a discussion on effective strategies to help children have a smooth transition from online learning back to the classroom.
Capistrano Unified counselors in the past year have been recognized for their outstanding service to students. Darwin Vega, a Capistrano Valley High School counselor, was awarded the 2020 Orange County High School Counselor of the Year award. He was nominated by his school’s staff as well as various colleagues within the district.
Additionally, six Capistrano Unified counseling programs have received national recognition by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) as Recognized Model Programs (RAMP). The RAMP designation distinguishes schools committed to exemplary multi-faceted counseling programs. Last year, Marco Foster Middle School and Shorecliffs Middle School both earned their ASCA RAMP designation.
Capo Valley counselors stood out with their exemplary student engagement initiatives. Each October, Capo Valley leads an anti-bullying week which helps reduce bullying and boost campus safety. This produces a safe atmosphere within the school for students to feel fully accepted without fear of judgement.
Also, Capo Valley increased the number of students applying for Federal Student Aid funds for college. In 2019, the school had the highest percentage of students applying for financial aid in south Orange County. This initiative positively affects these students on their collegiate path by receiving help with the financial burdens of universities.
Capistrano Unified is proud of its longstanding commitment to student’s well-being while they are in school and guidance for a successful future.
To learn more about CUSD counseling services, visit the CUSD School Counseling webpage.