|The Beautiful Divine Ladies group of Windsor Mill Middle gathers in the school lobby with school counselor Melanie Davis.|
School counselors are integral team members for any school staff. They help students make responsible decisions; mediate problems; deal with traumatic losses; develop a sense of respect for themselves and others; and plan for college, work, post-secondary training, and lifelong learning. For this feature, a recently award-winning guidance counselor was asked to keep an informal journal of a random day.
Melanie Davis, School Counselor, Windsor Mill Middle School
As a school counselor since 2003, first at Hillcrest Crest Elementary School and now at Windsor Mill Middle, Melanie Davis believes in children and, through the creation of programs such as the “Video Production Team” and “Notebook Doctors,” she has ensured that children, first and foremost, believe in themselves. Her Video Production Team places children who have ongoing behavioral concerns behind the camera and in a producer’s role with the intent of helping to build self-confidence and accomplishment. Notebook Doctors are students who meet with peers one-on-one and assist them in organizing their notebooks, backpacks, and lockers. This hands-on student care has paid rich dividends for children, reducing the number of office referrals and raising a “can-do” spirit in many students. Another program Davis created, the Women’s Leadership Corps, develops leadership skills, role model behavior, self esteem, and goal setting for 7th and 8th grade students as they prepare for high school. Active in Future Educators of America and many state and county level school counseling organizations, Davis uses a variety of strategies to enhance student success throughout the school. She was honored with a prestigious Berenbach Award through the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce 2007 Awards for Excellence in Education program.
|Melanie Davis in a photo taken for a cookbook the counseling office created as a school fundraiser.|
I was called into a meeting with a 7th grade young lady and her mother. She had received some phone calls from former friends the night before saying that they now wanted to fight her in school. She was afraid to stay in school that day. I assured the mom that I would meet with the students involved and help her daughter to feel safe in school. I pulled the young ladies together in a small group, and we talked about positive methods of resolving conflicts. They decided to try to work on their friendship. I gave the young lady a “Hot Pass” (emergency pass out of class at any time) in case she had any further difficulties.
I spent some time this afternoon with a prospective parent and student. I like to have some of the students I work with come and give tours to guests. It gives them an opportunity to be seen as “experts” in the building and feel confident and capable. I had one of my young men give the family a tour around the building and along the way he talked about ways to make a good impression in middle school, ideas for managing your time, and the importance of giving your best effort. At the end of the tour, I shared with the parent that we hadn’t rehearsed any of that. It was clear that being a “guide” was helping the student find the right path for himself. I feel like he learned to follow by leading.
I saw a student sitting in the Counseling Office waiting area crying. He had just received a very poor grade on a test and was afraid that he might fail the 7th grade. I brought him into my office, we looked up his grades for the year, and I assured him that he would still be able to pass. We talked about some ways that he could pull his grades up in the future. He was still a little shaken up, so I let him sit in the Serenity Center (a room where students can sit on comfy chairs, listen to relaxing music, and read suggested methods for de-stressing that are posted on the walls) for 10 minutes. When I came back, he said that he felt much better.
At 8th grade closing ceremonies, a student walked up to me with a huge grin on her face. She had had some severe behavioral problems at the beginning of the school year. She spent some time in the Home and Hospital program and had struggled to make improvements since returning to our school. We met to talk about what she would need to do in order to improve her grades and move on to high school. She made goals for herself, and I could tell that she had become very serious about sticking with them. The day that she discovered that she would be promoted to the next grade she was so excited she hugged everyone in the office suite. At graduation she was clearly very proud of herself. She pulled out her certificate of completion to show it to me and said, “I didn’t get any of the other special awards, Ms. Davis.” I asked, “But didn’t you get the certificate that matters the most to you?” She thought about it and then told me, “Yes, this is the one that matters.”
(For “Day in the Life of…” features about two award-winning teachers, please see the Back to School 2007 issue of Classroom to Community Express. This newspaper, produced by Baltimore County Public Schools, is available now in BCPS schools and offices and at branches of the Baltimore County Public Library.)
Story by Diana L. Spencer, Communications Officer, Journal entries by Melanie Davis, School Counselor, Windsor Mill Middle. Photos by the Office of Communications.