Counselors tackle emotions to boost academics

Staff Report

Before kids can learn, they sometimes have to overcome problems at home.

That’s where Penny Morgan and Melissa Ayers come in.

As experts from Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services, they have for several years worked with special education classes at Harris Elementary School — and, as needed, one-on-one with troubled students at a parent’s request.

Principal Beth Schwartz decided this year to expand the counselors’ role.

In a report Monday to the Amherst board of education, she described how Morgan and Ayers have started working in group sessions to address emotional issues.

They talk about anxiety, ADHD, LGBTQ issues, social skills, self-esteem, grief, anger management, and other difficult issues that can preoccupy kids in the classroom.

Topics often include how to express feelings, resolving conflicts, how to be a good student, and how to be a good friend.

The counselors observe children who are struggling, talk with teachers, meet with parents, and then provide recommendations to help students in need.

“Our students need that and it truly is making a difference,” Schwartz said.

Firelands Counseling also works with groups at Nord Middle School and Amherst Junior High.

Staff Report