School Counselors play an insurmountable role in the lives of scholars. During National School Counseling Week (Feb. 6-10), Osseo Area Schools recognizes the contributions and tremendous impact school counselors have on ensuring scholars have the essential support needed to succeed. This week, we will feature a few of the dedicated elementary, middle and high school counselors that help our scholars.
Amy Paton, Basswood Elementary School
Amy Paton is the school counselor at Basswood Elementary School. Paton grew up with family members in education and always knew she wanted to work in schools. She realized she really wanted to go into school counseling to work with kids, particularly the youngest kids in elementary school. Paton has worked in Osseo Area Schools for 18 years as a school counselor. This is her sixth year at Basswood, and she has also worked at Rice Lake, Woodland and Garden City Elementary Schools.
“What’s amazing about elementary school kids is there is so much opportunity for growth, and you can work with them at an age where they are still so able to change and grow. You can really see some big impact from working with kids of that age.” Paton said.
Paton was nominated and accepted as the Counselor of the Year through the Minnesota School Counselor Association in 2017. She also was awarded the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) a few years ago, which requires counselors to show how their programming lines up with a national school counseling model.
“Often times I hear, ‘what does an elementary counselor do?’ I want people to know that the socio-emotional learning needs of our students have increased dramatically and the ability to go in and teach at both a classroom level and interventions targeting specific behaviors with kids who have a lot of needs is so important,” Paton said. “There is so much going on and it makes it really hard for kids to learn when their emotions and their feelings are not in check.”
Each day, Paton assist scholars in a variety of ways, greeting them in the mornings, working with kids one on one who are struggling with a variety of needs such as anxiety and emotion regulation, running two to three lunch groups with students who have been identified by a universal screener and leading classroom lessons teaching skills.
“Right now we are focusing on the zones of regulation, where they recognize their feelings, and then teaching skills for calming down so that they can get back to the green zone and ready to learn,” Paton said.
In her free time, Paton loves spending time at her cabin year round and taking kids to their activities.
Lois Cassell, Palmer Lake Elementary School
Palmer Lake Elementary School’s new counselor, Lois Cassell, has a fresh degree in school counseling from the University of Minnesota, and she’s in her first year in the counseling field.
“I love the kids, I love the culture, I love the teachers here,” Cassell said.
Cassell decided to pursue school counseling as a way of blending her interest in forensic psychology and working with kids. In her first year, she has realized that there’s a mountain of other skills and knowledge to obtain through experience in this challenging career.
Cassell’s days center on interactions with young scholars, whether it’s interacting with students as they start their day, classroom lessons, social-emotional lessons, and small groups that circle on positive friendships, female empowerment and strong interpersonal relationships. She also communicates with parents regularly to jump ahead of emerging issues and help students quickly.
“There’s always something new,” she said. “Currently we are in Black History Month, so a lot of my lessons are geared towards learning how cooperation and teamwork are important, not just in your everyday life, but also how it applies to these really significant moments in Black history.”
Cassell said school counselors at Osseo Area Schools are here to support all students across the schools, and to support the whole child, not just their academic needs.
“As school counselors, I think what’s really beautiful about our job is that we’re like the umbrella above all students, so that no student feels like they’re not involved and not learning,” she said. “It’s so important at this age.”