MISD Counseling Corner

Fall/Winter 2016

The importance of School Counseling and Student Supports

MISSION STATEMENT: The mission of the MISD School Counseling Program is to address the personal/social, academic, and career development of all students. The MISD counselors are student advocates, providing support to maximize student potential. Using a team approach, incorporating school, parent, and community resources, we will help students gain the necessary skills required for success in their adult roles.



“Today’s young people are living in an exciting time, with an increasingly diverse society, new technologies and expanding opportunities. To help ensure they are prepared to become the next generation of parents, workers, leaders and citizens, every student needs support, guidance and opportunities during childhood, a time of rapid growth and change. Children face unique and diverse challenges, both personally and developmentally, that have an impact on academic achievement."

– “Toward a Blueprint for Youth: Making Positive Youth Development a National Priority,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



Elementary School Students’ Developmental Needs


The elementary years are a time when students begin to develop their academic self-concept and their feelings of competence and confidence as learners. They are beginning to develop decision-making, communication and life skills, as well as character values. It is also a time when students develop and acquire attitudes toward school, self, peers, social groups and family. Comprehensive developmental school counseling programs provide education, prevention and intervention services, which are integrated into all aspects of children’s lives. Early identification and intervention of children’s academic and social/emotional needs is essential in removing barriers to learning and in promoting academic achievement. The knowledge, attitudes and skills students acquire in the areas of academic, career and social development during these elementary years serve as the foundation for future success.


Middle School Students' Developmental Needs



Middle school is an exciting, yet challenging time for students, their parents and teachers. During this passage from childhood to adolescence, middle school students are characterized by a need to explore a variety of interests, connecting their learning in the classroom to its practical application in life and work; high levels of activity coupled with frequent fatigue due to rapid growth; a search for their own unique identity as they begin turning more frequently to peers rather than parents for ideas and affirmation; extreme sensitivity to the comments from others; and heavy reliance on friends to provide comfort, understanding and approval.


Secondary School Students' Developmental Needs



High school is the final transition into adulthood and the world of work as students begin separating from parents and exploring and defining their independence. Students are deciding who they are, what they do well and what they will do when they graduate. During these adolescent years, students are evaluating their strengths, skills and abilities. The biggest influence is their peer group. They are searching for a place to belong and rely on peer acceptance and feedback. They face increased pressures regarding risk behaviors involving sex, alcohol and drugs while exploring the boundaries of more acceptable behavior and mature, meaningful relationships. They need guidance in making concrete and compounded decisions. They must deal with academic pressures as they face high-stakes testing, the challenges of college admissions, the scholarship and financial aid application process and entrance into a competitive job market.

-Source: American School Counselor Association http://www.schoolcounselor.org/parents-public

Holiday Stress: Survival Guide

What Causes Holiday Stress?

First, ask yourself this: What about the holidays gets you down? Once you cut through the vague sense of dread about family gatherings and identify specific problems, you can deal with them directly. For many people, holiday stress is triggered by:

  • Unhappy memories. Going home for the holidays naturally makes people remember old times, but for you the memories may be more bitter than sweet. “During the holidays, a lot of childhood memories come back,” says Duckworth, who is also an assistant professor at Harvard University Medical School. “You may find yourself dwelling on what was inadequate about your childhood and what was missing.” If you associate the holidays with a bad time in your life -- the loss of a loved one, a previous depression -- this time of year will naturally bring those memories back.

  • Toxic relatives. Holidays can put you in the same room with relatives you avoid the rest of the year. People struggling with depression may face stigma, too. “Some relatives don’t really believe you’re depressed,” says Gloria Pope, director of advocacy and public policy at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in Chicago. “They think you’re just lazy, or that it’s all in your head. It can be really hurtful.”

  • What’s changed. The holidays can highlight everything that’s changed in your lives -- a divorce, a death in the family, a son who’s making his first trip back home after starting college. Any of these can really unsettle a gathering and add holiday stress.

  • What’s stayed the same. For others, it’s the monotonous sameness of family holiday gatherings that depresses them -- the same faces, the same jokes, the same food on the same china plates.

  • Lowered defenses. During the holiday season, you’re more likely to be stressed out by obligations and errands. It’s cold and flu season and your immune system is under assault. It’s getting dark earlier each day. You’re eating worse, sleeping less, and drinking more. By the time the family gathering rolls around, you’re worn out, tense, and fragile. The holiday stress makes it harder to cope with your family than it might be at other times of the year.

Tips for Beating Holiday Stress
  • Once you’ve taken a clear look at the holidays -- about what works and what doesn’t -- it’s time to make some changes. Focus on the holiday stresses that you can control. That includes making different plans and changing your responses to situations. Here are four key don’ts for the holidays.

    • Don’t do the same old thing. If the usual family gathering is causing holiday stress, try something else. If you’re too overwhelmed to host, discuss other possibilities with family members. Maybe a sibling could have the dinner this year.

    • Don’t expect miracles. If your holiday anxiety stems from a deeper history of family conflict, don’t expect that you’ll be able to resolve any big underlying issues now. Sure, it’s supposed to be a season of forgiveness and good will. But in the midst of a hectic holiday season, you can’t pin your hopes on leading family members to big emotional breakthroughs. You may be better off focusing on your own state of mind and confronting difficult issues during a less volatile time of year.

    • Don’t overdo it. To reduce holiday stress, you have to pace yourself. Long before the family gatherings actually happen, decide on some limits and stick to them. Stay one or two nights at your parents’ house instead of three or four. Plan to drop by the holiday party for a couple of hours instead of staying all night.

    • Don’t worry about how things should be. “There’s a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays,” says Duckworth. “We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays.” But in fact, most people have less than perfect holiday gatherings -- they have family tension, melancholy, and dry turkey too. If you have negative feelings, don’t try to deny them. Remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful or unusual about feeling down during the holidays.

-Source: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/home-for-the-holdays-stress-tips

MISD Counseling Staff

Michelle Thomason: MA Winona State University, MN 14th year at MISD

Michelle Wilson: MSW U of I, 22nd year at MISD

Ann Grant: MA Loras College, 27 year at MISD

Kathy McVeigh: MA Drake University, 21st year at MISD

Jamie Shields: MA UNI, 6th year at MISD

Tom Kettmann: MA Drake University, 11 year at MISD