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The Journal Gazette

  • Schmiedel

Thursday, December 28, 2017 1:00 am

Wise counsel

Students, schools both benefit from professionals' presence

Leah Schmiedel

Leah Schmiedel is a junior at Homestead High School.

Do you remember your middle school counselor?

My counselor's office was a safe haven for my classmates and me as we trekked through our pre-teen years. Whenever I struggled or needed to talk to someone about an issue, my counselor came to my rescue.

As I transitioned into high school, however, the only time I saw my new counselor was when I mapped out my schedule for the next year.

It came to my attention that high schools lack the proper support from which some students would benefit.

Most of the time when students struggle in school, a reason lies behind it. Whether it be issues at home or personal struggles, holding in emotions creates a barrier in students that is hard to overcome and can often lead to falling grades.

In my sophomore year I dealt with issues at home and, as a result, let my grades slip. I failed to complete homework because I was overwhelmed and had too much to manage at home, which affected not only my homework grades but also my test scores.

I constantly held my emotions inside and felt as if nobody could help me deal with these problems. But I realize now that if I had had someone to guide me through these issues, I would have done better in school.

Having a counselor to vent to could affect not only a student's personal life but also their educational life.

Similarly, a student's confidence is key to their success at school.

If someone experiences bullying or low self-esteem, it can affect their education.

When I was in middle school, fellow students bullied me because of my height, which wore down my self-confidence. People referred to me as the “human giraffe” because I was the tallest girl in the class and towered even over the boys.

My middle school counselor was there the whole time and reminded me that these fifth-graders' opinions didn't matter. As a result, my perception of school changed drastically.

I went from dreading going to school to waking up excited to learn because my counselor taught me what was actually important about school.

In the human brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making, isn't fully developed until about the age of 25. So, being the teen that I am, the decisions I make sometimes seem logical but really aren't.

Many times throughout my high school career, arguments with friends or wrong decisions on how to respond to a situation have distracted me from my schoolwork and kept me from my full potential.

Therapists, who have fully developed prefrontal cortexes and are specially educated on teaching how to make proper decisions, would assist a student in acknowledging their issues and walk them through the most beneficial way to deal with the problem. Therapists would give students unbiased and informed opinions on how to react to friends and teachers, and how to react to any situation to minimize drama and allow for a better focus on school.

Imagine how much our school could benefit simply from having a professional to talk to. Not only would students benefit from having a psychologist on hand, but the school's drug and alcohol rates would likely decrease. There would be someone to help handle problems rather than students seeking these other forms of relief. Test scores would increase, possibly increasing the school's reputation and rank.

The school constantly increases its staff, so why not hire one more person and change the atmosphere of the school?