At our annual Student Services planning retreat, we were advised Administration had opened the door for more student availability for small group counseling; we decided to expand our group offerings in the following year. Using our goals as the guide, counselors were offered the opportunity to facilitate groups closest to their area of interest.
Peers Opting to Improve Social Engagement (POISE) is a group which provides peer support to eighth grade students struggling with academic and/or social issues as identified by middle school counselors. It is a two year commitment of these students who are paired with an eleventh grade mentor; the pairs continue through the younger students’ ninth grade year. The group was initiated over six years ago by counselor Kirsten Wiley who saw the need for a transition support group and employed superior junior volunteers selected by interviews. The group has grown over the years; counselors Jenna Jablonski and Cijlvere Nute volunteered to be facilitators. Survey and attendance/discipline data indicated the value of this group. It has become a well-known and praised effort within the school which we will continue.
Hispanic College Applications is a group whose purpose is to increase awareness of four year college opportunities and rate of college applications of Hispanic students. The rate at which our Hispanic students applied to four year colleges was approximately 15% lower than every other ethnic or racial groups. The College Applications group was composed of seniors and began early in the year; it was co-led by counselor Enrique Fernandez who is Hispanic, and Eileen Doyle, our College and Career Center Specialist. This group was advertised to all Hispanic seniors; ten opted to attend. Student perception data indicated the group was positively received and we intend to continue it.
Freshmen Study Skills is a group we designed to support our freshmen promotion goal for students who failed an academic course in eighth grade and received Special Education Services. The purpose was to instill and confirm the presence of basic time management and study skills in these students while making the transition from middle to high school. Counselors Brianne Slizofski, Lacey Jacobsen and Megan Adkins expressed interest in working with younger high school students and co-led this group. While we believe this was good information, we hope to aim it at the freshman population outside of Special Education as well. Further data analysis will assist us in determining a target group having that specific need within that population.
Senior Graduation is a group intervention supporting our senior graduation goal. We initiated the group in the third quarter after targeting seniors who were at risk of not graduating; the initial criteria was 10 or more full day first semester absences and a list of these seniors was reviewed by counselors who analyzed grade progressions and invited seniors considered at risk of not graduating to attend. Counselors co-leading the group were Jenna Jablonski, Mark Gomperts and Joanie Murphy, all of whom expressed a preference to work with older students and help them toward graduation. They were assisted by our Spring Semester counseling intern, Gina Hafez. All students who participated in the group graduated in June and their attendance improved in the quarter in which the group was held. Because graduation is a continuing concern in education and attendance issues are increasingly prevalent, the results affirmed the value of this group and we will continue to offer it to students at risk of not graduating.
“Good Vibes” is a self-esteem and social skills group whose purpose is to help students feeling isolated to connect with others more easily. The concept was presented to a counselor by students with the initial proposal to help new Robinson students to assimilate. Counselors decided to expand the concept to include students who appeared isolated due to difficulty in social interactions. Each counselor nominated students whom they believed could benefit from the group. Additionally, the group was made available to all students; it was advertised as a friendship group to avoid any perceived stigma. Because her students initially approached her with the idea, Counselor Kirsten Wiley assisted by counseling interns Lindsey Bauer and Gina Hafez co-led the group. Students were very positive about the group; one even wrote a song about it and performed it in the group. Based on the positive perception data, we plan to offer this group in the future.