Upper School Counselor Christine Oliphant, LPC, Middle School Counselor Cat Chapman, LPC-S, and Lower School Counselor Jane Jackson, LPC, share their vision for the 2020-2021 school year, using the acronym TEAM: Together Everyone Accomplishes More. Walking together, we seek to meet the needs of our students in all areas, including social-emotional wellbeing. An overarching goal is to “help students replace fear with faith, and panic with peace, guiding students to equip themselves with positive coping skills.” Building in self-care practices and cultivating resilience are additional objectives shared by Cat Chapman, recognizing that self-care is essential in stress reduction during trying times.
This year, we face the unique challenge of having one school in two locations: Second Baptist School campus and the homes of our virtual families. “Now more than ever, we need to be paying attention to how we're doing, and how those around us are doing,” emphasizes Jane Jackson. Even apart, we can walk together, united in faith as a strong school community. Our school counselors are integral in connecting us, saying, “This school year is different in so many ways, but the key components of a caring, loving atmosphere are the same.”
SBS counselors are making themselves available to virtual students via Zoom and in-person students via social distanced visits. Jane Jackson said one of her top goals this year is to connect with virtual students, and she is working on creative ways to maximize her contact with them and their families in the coming weeks and months. She says she wants to help virtual learners find ways to support others in their household, “so there can be a shared sense of responsibility to support those with whom they live.” With in-person learners in lower school, Jane visits classrooms to read aloud books on feelings and discuss emotional self-assessment tools; she hopes to share the same information with virtual learners.
Counselors and teachers work together not only to encourage our students but each other, knowing we are all facing unique challenges we haven’t seen before. Teachers are encouraged to be cautious, not fearful, remembering and reminding students that God is in control. To support our whole community, counselors visit classrooms in each division level to check in on social-emotional health and offer practical, targeted strategies for both students and teachers based on needs that arise. Healthy habits are also recommended for all, as the body affects the mind and spirit. Cat Chapman and Christine Oliphant recommend spending time with the Lord, eating healthy foods, getting enough rest and exercising. Christine Oliphant wisely adds, “God gave us two things that are always available anywhere and anytime, free of charge: the power to pray and the power to breathe.”
To conclude, Jane Jackson says, “Our time spent together is vital to sustaining a healthy sense of community. God designed us to dwell together, walk together and to be a support for one another. As counselors, we can model what this looks like to both our students and our teachers. We are so thankful to have students back at Second Baptist School, both virtually and on campus.”