by Hillary Hewins, Director of Counseling
Ask any counselor what it’s like to have this role on a school campus, and they’ll likely tell you just how lucky they are to get to do this every day. For the four school counselors at YIS, our roles provide us with the privilege of connecting with students in meaningful and impactful ways. We get to support young people on their journeys of self-discovery, in the hopes of empowering them to create lives filled with purpose, connection, and joy. I personally am thrilled every day that such a profession exists!
Some might think that a student should see their counselor only when something is not going well, or just when needed for university or future planning. This perspective may be informed by our past experiences, or even cultural understandings of mental and emotional health. However, the paradigm has shifted over the years, and the work that school counselors do is meant to proactively support the well-being needs of ALL students.
Our counseling team of Eliza Kumamoto, Dee Slattery, Adam Clark, and me, has had many conversations recently in order to articulate our shared beliefs and educational philosophies that guide our daily activities as counselors at YIS. We wanted to take this opportunity to share some of what we discussed with you.
At YIS, our model of counseling is comprehensive, meaning that we believe that student well-being and learning are inherently intertwined. Our primary goal is to support student well-being at YIS by proactively addressing the personal, social, academic, and career needs of all students. We know that when students feel connected, safe, and emotionally and physically healthy, they are better able to learn.
The YIS counseling program is ever-evolving, aiming to meet the needs of our dynamic community. This means that we provide students with understandings, skills, and tools that can be used to create positive learning and social environments, and prevent and move beyond obstacles. We believe that when adults know students on a personal level-- their values, experiences, and challenges-- we can support them authentically and with heart.
All counselors at YIS believe members of our community have a right to feel safe, supported, and accepted, and are capable of positive change and growth. This means noticing where we are starting from, (right now, on this very day!) and moving forward toward becoming the people we would like to be. We believe in and apply the evidence-based research findings from the field of positive psychology, which is the study of understanding strengths, seeking meaningful engagement, and experiencing happiness (positive emotion), in order to flourish.
To do this, we develop and facilitate a series of learning experiences that is integrated into the fabric of YIS, enabling us to reach each and every student. We collaborate with students, teachers, families, school leaders, and external service providers and engage in a process of ongoing professional learning. We support students in an individualized way with a focus on their unique journey. We celebrate diversity and foster the development of personal and cultural identity and advocate for the well-being of community members. We believe our role is to guide, support, plan, and implement programs as part of broader pastoral care in our community in order to be a catalyst for positive personal growth and advocate for change, where needed.
At YIS, we believe that when we care for our hearts, minds, and bodies, we are able to live and learn well.
To see the Counseling Department’s shared beliefs and philosophy, please visit the Counseling page on our website.