High school guidance program puts students on the right path

By Douglas McCulloch | May 14, 2018

From preparing students for post-high school careers and education, to supporting student needs, Dartmouth High’s guidance staff take on many responsibilities.

At the May 14 School Committee meeting, Director of High School Counseling and Support Services Bridgit Martin gave an overview of how the department works, and its plans for the future. Her position was created at the beginning of the school year as part of a reorganization of the high school counseling program.

The department includes four guidance counselors, a guidance secretary, three social workers, and one school psychologist. The school psychologist offers services like testing, support for the positive behavioral interventions and supports and response to intervention programs, and presents Signs of Suicide (SOS) lessons for all grade 10 students.

Some social workers see a student only once, while others are seen regularly on their caseload or through an IEP. There are 70 students per social worker.

Guidance counselors offer a range of services from college advising and course selection to individual and group counseling and assistance in post-secondary advising. They also oversee the school’s shadow mentor program, which allows graduating middle school students to attend the high school for a day.

“Students are surprised from what they’re seeing and they’re loving it from the reports I’m getting,” Martin said, adding that for some students it even convinces them to attend Dartmouth High.

Students entering each grade level at the high school receive developmental counseling to guide them through their high school career and beyond, from a personality inventory in their freshman year to guidance on PSAT, SAT, MCAS, ASVAB, and other testing systems. Staff also monitor student grades, communicate with families, and schedule individual appointments with students each year.

By their senior year, counselors help students submit college applications and ensure each student has a plan for what they will do after high school. The school uses the Naviance computer platform to assist in planning.

Martin already has several new ideas for the next school year. She plans to introduce group counseling to students. One such group will be for students who do not feel comfortable eating lunch in the cafeteria, and will bring some of those students together.

A career interest inventory is also planned next year, which will include 15-minute interactive presentations to gauge what students are interested in career wise. She also hopes to introduce a college fair to the high school.

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