Elementary Level Adjustment Counseling
Hingham Public Schools has made a commitment to social/emotional learning in the schools by assigning one full-time school adjustment counselor per school. Services can be accessed easily, are fluid and available to all students and staff as needed, and span all three tiers of instruction. School counseling cannot replace community counseling, that remains a parent’s role. In school counselors assess, refer, and coordinate with community therapists. Additionally, counselors address the impact of emotional needs on school functioning. Hingham has made these services available as needed to all students regardless of their special education status.
This three tier model provides a fluid delivery system to set the expectations for social/emotional behavior, to assess skills, and to address deficits. We provide universal prevention services (Tier I), short-term intervention (Tier II), and intensive support (Tier III).We seek to provide a quick response. Students move between the levels of service as needs arise. As regular education staff, adjustment counselors offer services to all students as needed.
Tier I Universal Interventions
Preventative and proactive interventions for all students. With this level of intervention 85% of students can meet the social/emotional expectations for school behavior.
- Positive Behavioral Instruction Support (PBIS)
- Responsive Classroom training for classroom teachers
- Second Step and Steps to Respect lessons
- Social Thinking curriculum
- Professional training for staff and parent presentations
Tier II Short-term individual or targeted group interventions
A small group of students (5-15%) need:
- Short-term focused groups
- Situational individual support
- Support transitioning to school
- Referral to community resources
- Assessment and referral to area therapists or psychiatrists for students needing mental health help
Tier III Intensive/Individual Interventions
A small percentage of students (1 – 5%) may need intensive intervention based on individual assessment. Interventions may include:
- Long-term, short-term, individual or group counseling, check-ins and case management services
- Parent, teacher and paraeducator training and consultation
- Crisis intervention and support services
Classroom teachers establish behavioral expectations and interventions for their students. Responsive Classroom strategies (e.g. Morning Meeting) help set a positive class climate. The classroom teacher is the first point of contact for parents regarding a child’s performance or concerns.
- All staff members are trained to take reports of bullying or discipline concerns.
- Assistant principal/principals address serious discipline situations and bullying.
- Adjustment counselors may develop a safety plan for the targeted student or work with the aggressor and counsel student struggling with following behavior guidelines.
- School Psychologists may be asked to intervene with students receiving IEP services.
- Positive Behavioral Instruction Support (PBIS) committees work to strengthen expected behavior throughout the building as a Tier I universal service.
Problems Accessing the Curriculum
- Instructional Support Intervention Team (ISIT), often chaired by the assistant principal, serves as the first point of contact beyond the classroom for a regular education student who is struggling academically or socially. School psychologists and/or school adjustment counselors provide professional guidance and may provide counseling as needed.
- 504s – This civil rights legislation seeks to level the playing field for students with disabilities or impairments that substantially impact learning. School psychologists often chair 504 meetings. Either school psychologists or adjustment counselors may work with students whose disabilities include social/emotional needs.
- An IEP process which is chaired by the school psychologist. School psychologists are well trained in the legal and educational requirements for services in the schools and the assessment of disabilities. They also provide testing for students as part of the evaluation process.
Addressing Social/Emotional Health at the Secondary Level
While there are many similarities in how services are available and provided to the entire
student body, a few differences exist:
- Secondary adjustment counselors are joined by school counselors who are assigned to each student to help with academic as well as some social problems. Adjustment Counselors provide services to students and families as needed.
- Group and individual counseling continues at the middle school while individual sessions are the focus for the older adolescents at the high school. Consultation with school staff, and other professionals as well as referrals to community support personnel continue as important components of the adjustment counselor position.
- Tier 1 Intervention for the middle school includes the health curriculum, Second Step and social skills curriculum, along with assemblies that address topics such as internet safety and motivational speakers. The middle school also has a strong team building component built into the 6th and 7th grade classes.
- Tier 1 intervention at the high school includes seminars on topics such as depression/suicide prevention. High school counselors also address stress management strategies. Health classes and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) program cover bullying and harassment prevention. The middle school and high school have many after school activities and clubs to encourage teamwork and socialization.
- The ISIT team is chaired by the adjustment counselor at the high school; the assistant principal chairs it at the Middle School and the adjustment counselor serves as a member of the team.
- Tier III intervention may include helping students who return to school following a psychiatric hospitalization at the secondary level.
- The adjustment counselors work closely with the assistant principals on discipline issues and developing safety plans or contracts with students.
Adjustment Counselors in the Hingham Public Schools provide many services.
Today they may have:
- Addressed concerns
- Assessed needs
- Consulted with teachers
- Consulted with families
- Consulted with doctors
- Counseled students
- Helped families in crisis
- Observed students
- Provided Services (classroom, small group & individual)
- Set Expectations
- Supported Student Needs
- Trained Staff &/or Parents
- Presented Curriculum
- Strategized solutions
- Worked with families
If you have further questions about the role of the adjustment counselor, please feel free to call any of us directly. We will help connect you to the right person to help with your situation. We’re only a call away.
Heather Rodriguez, M.Ed.
Director, School Counseling
School Adjustment Counselors
Catherine Rein, MSW, LICSW
Jessica Hoguet, MSW, LCSW
A.C.Decker, MSW, LICSW
Lauren Torraco, MSW, LICSW
Beth Lalli, MSW, LICSW
Kevin Lalli, M.A./C.A.G.S. LMHC