Friday, September 29, 2006
New recruits fill out the ranks of CCHS Guidance Department
Over the last two years, the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Guidance Department has seen a number of its long-time veterans retire. Seven of the 11 counselors on their department list have been hired within the past two years. Many of the retirees had more than thirty years with the department.
Last year, the largest number of guidance counselors ever retired across the state. When asked about hiring replacements, Department Chair Brad McGrath said, "It was very competitive. We did very well, considering these people had more than one option and chose to come here."
The department lost six people during 2005 and 2006. Karen Bushey and Kate Chambers retired in June of 2005. They were replaced by Alison Furey and Caryn Haskins. This past June, Bob Raskind, Tom Curtin and Bill Yunker retired. [Curtin has stayed on to work with 2007 seniors.] Kelly Flynn also left. Curtin worked 40 years at CCHS. They were replaced by Dan Simone, Lillie Davis, Tom O'Connor, Rachele (Henriquez) Brown and Kate Reidy. Brown has just gotten married and is changing her name from Henriquez. The impact of the department changes on students is softened by the Emeritus Program, that allows the retired counselors to stay on one more year to help the CCHS juniors they were working with through their senior year.
Though some very experienced counselors have departed, the new hires have experience and new perspectives to offer. Furey and Haskins have visited a total of over 50 colleges in the last year, giving them firsthand knowledge of college campuses and their programs. They both coach sports teams. McGrath says, "They can connect with kids. They are really nice people. I'm excited. I can see they have very good counseling skills." In addition, he says, "They bring a comfort level with technology." Naviance, a software program that helps students in their college search, was brought into CCHS in the last two years. The program allows students to match their skills and what they want in a college with data that shows how likely it is that they will be accepted there. Furey displayed its features at a regional school committee meeting last year. McGrath comments, "[the new counselors] use its features quickly. They have that skill set."
This year's new counselors have a variety of backgrounds. O'Connor has eight years of experience at Dover-Sherborn High School and he was the Director of the Guidance Department at the King Philip School. Brown has worked at two other schools, one in South Carolina, before coming here. Lillie Davis came from the Brookline school system. Kate Reidy has worked in private industry and received a master's from Suffolk University. She interned at Wellesley High School.
Crisis intervention offered
"We want all students to be successful at the high school," says McGrath. Occasionally a student may have immediate issues and the guidance department, along with the administration, some key teachers and the school nurse form a crisis intervention team to get the student through.
Simone, who was a counselor at Newton North High School for the previous eight years, has replaced Raskind as School Adjustment Counselor. He joins Kelli Kirshtein as the two such certified counselors in the department. They are also licensed as mental health providers or social workers. Any student or parent can make an appointment with them for a variety of health issues including alcohol/drug prevention and assessment, crisis situations, referral to community agencies and other health issues. Kirshtein has been at CCHS for almost ten years.
Guidance helps all students
For those students who do not plan to attend college after high school, the department has a guidance resource center. There, students can get information about interim year programs, technical and trade schools, training programs and the military.
However, with over 92% of the students going on to four-year colleges, the department spends a great deal of time priming students for that purpose. The department hosts a number of evening events to explain the college application process to parents and students. There are post-secondary planning meetings for both juniors and seniors and their parents, and a freshman parent-night discussion. There is also an internship program to help students explore professions in which they think they might be interested. Many colleges participate in mini-fairs that are held in the spring. In addition, eighth graders get a tour of CCHS in the winter before they enroll.
© 2006 The