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Counselors Provide Countless Levels of Support to LVJUSD Students and Families

February 5, 2019 - Livermore, CA - Being a kid may not be easy, and so the job of the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District’s (LVJUSD) counselors is to make it a little easier. Encompassing nearly every aspect of student life, LVJUSD counselors work with students to set and accomplish academic goals, participate in clubs, develop pathways to college and careers, address social-emotional issues, and much more. During National School Counseling Week, LVJUSD takes time to salute these amazing individuals who support students, staff, and families.

In response to parent, guardian, staff, and student input showing that our students would benefit from increased support, the LVJUSD Board enabled the District to hire additional counselors at the high schools and to place a full-time counselor in each middle school beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The increased network of support has allowed counselors to address various student needs while also increasing collaboration between staff and families.

Academic counseling is a crucial aspect of the job – counselors ensure that students are on track to graduate by determining how and why a student may be falling behind. Because this often ties into the student’s social emotional well-being, both in school and at home, to address even a solitary issue means understanding the whole picture. “Counseling includes a little bit of everything nowadays,” said Allison Petersdorf, counselor at Del Valle Continuation High School. “We are doing a lot more with the ‘whole child’ idea of supporting and encouraging growth in all areas of a student’s life. We help them graduate, but we also teach life skills and coping skills.”

The holistic approach is a challenge, but one that counselors find incredibly rewarding and necessary. With the additional staff, counselors are able to be more present during the school day and can support students’ home life, when needed. Counselors are able to present information to students on social-emotional and academic topics, and to teachers on ways to better emotionally support their students. Even before students get to high school, counselors collaborate on goal-setting for students and follow up regularly on progress. “I truly believe that the investment in our students' emotional and social well-being has a direct impact on all aspects of their lives,” said Christensen Middle School Counselor Dawn Allen. “The payback to the community and society is one-hundred fold.”

Middle and high school principals at LVJUSD have seen tremendous progress at their schools as a result of the services and support provided by counselors. They participate in various clubs reflecting students’ interests and needs, ranging in topics from the gender spectrum to mindfulness, as well as being involved in academic tutoring groups. As a respected and reliable source of information and advice for students, counselors are ideal candidates to respond to serious health issues such as vaping, tobacco, or substance abuse – providing avenues for prevention and intervention. As LVJUSD implements its Choose Love curriculum – focusing on courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion in action – counselors have been invaluable in developing a school culture that helps students cultivate positive behaviors and relationships.

“The addition of our school counselor, Sasha Zarubin, at our school has had a phenomenal impact on our students,” said Risha Krishna, vice principal at Joe Michell K-8. “Her compassionate attention has resulted in greater opportunities for students to learn coping strategies in dealing with everyday social emotional issues.”

College and career readiness by graduation day is the District’s goal for each of its students. To achieve that goal, students need support each day leading up to that point. LVJUSD teachers, staff, families, and community members work together to ensure students have the resources to go wherever their potential may take them. LVJUSD’s counselors represent an integral reinforcement and extension of that support, empowering students to succeed and flourish each day.