Albertville City Schools provides a comprehensive, developmental school counseling program for all students. The mission of the Counseling & Guidance program is to prepare every student socially, academically, and emotionally for present and future challenges. This mission aligns closely with the ACS vision statement: "At ACS, we are committed to expanding opportunities for ALL students in a safe and nurturing environment that fosters innovation, rigor, and excellence." This is accomplished through the following activities and services:
Classroom guidance lessons: Students in grades K-6 participate in classroom lessons led by school counselors, with the frequency varying by grade level. These lessons focus on topics such as career exploration, empathy, respect, communication skills, conflict resolution, problem solving, and emotion management (such as calm-down strategies to use when angry or anxious). Cyberbullying and internet safety are also addressed. The focus of classroom lessons is on teaching students how to identify their needs and effectively communicate those needs to others. The values of honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, kindness, respect, and responsibility are emphasized. School counselors use grade-level curriculum from Second Step, a research-based curriculum that has been widely used across the country for many years. Sample lessons are available on the Second Step website by clicking here. (Scroll down to find the "classroom kits" section for the correct sample lessons.)
At the middle and high schools, classroom lessons are primarily focused on academic and career topics, such as developing a four-year plan of studies for high school, selecting coursework that aligns with career interests, how to be college or career ready after high school, and how to pursue post-secondary education and skills training.
Small-group counseling: School counselors meet with small groups of students to work on specific skills or needs related to topics such as emotion management, social skills, friendship concerns, making good choices, dealing with grief, and improving academics through study & organization skills. Small group counseling typically occurs weekly or bi-weekly for a total of 6-8 sessions. Parents must sign a permission form before students participate in small-group counseling.
Individual counseling: School counselors may meet with individual students to address issues that are preventing the student from engaging in school and achieving their potential. Students may be referred to the counselor by teachers & school staff, parents, or the students themselves. Usually, a brief conversation with the counselor is sufficient. Parents do not need to give permission for occasional visits to the counselor to discuss a specific concern. Sometimes a student may need ongoing counseling to work on specific needs. If a student needs to meet on a regularly-scheduled, ongoing basis with the school counselor, the parent must sign a permission form. Ongoing individual counseling at school is not intended to replace mental health counseling for students who may need more intensive support.
Crisis Intervention: Students experiencing a crisis may see the school counselor for immediate assistance. If a student is expressing thoughts of harm to self or others, parents will be notified to come to school to meet with school staff and receive information on keeping their child safe and locating additional support and services for their child. Please refer to the "Student Safety Protocol" section for more information on our response plan.
Consultation: School counselors help parents and teachers who may need advice or support regarding student needs. Parents are encouraged to contact their child's school counselor to discuss any concerns.
Referrals: Students who may need more intensive or long-term counseling or mental health treatment may be referred to appropriate community providers for further services. Through a partnership with Mt. Lakes Behavioral Healthcare, Albertville City Schools offer school-based mental health counseling to students in need. Parents are actively involved in the referral process and must sign additional paperwork and attend an intake appointment before the student can be seen by a mental health therapist. Shepherd's Cove Hospice offers in-school bereavement counseling once her month to students who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Parents may contact their child's school counselor for more information.