Elementary School Counseling Program
The elementary school counselor’s primary responsibility is to promote the academic, career, and social/emotional development of all students. The Ottumwa Schools’ elementary counseling curriculum aligns with the Iowa Department of Education’s Social Emotional Learning Competencies and the American School Counselor Association Standards.
The responsibilities of school counselors include:
- Work with all students to encourage a safe school climate of trust and respect.
- Deliver classroom lessons that align with our standards.
- Facilitate small groups.
- Meet individually with students to do brief, solution-focused counseling.
- Help students who struggle making positive behavior choices.
- Work with parents/guardians, all school staff, and with the community.
- Maintain confidentiality of students and their families unless there is a need to know or a safety concern.
- Provide education and information about social-emotional needs.
- Additional responsibilities as aligned to state and national standards.
The responsibilities of school counselors does NOT include:
- Work only with selected students in need.
- Assign grades.
- Facilitate therapy groups.
- Meet individually with students to do long-term mental health counseling.
- Share information about students and families to appease the curiosity of others.
- Tell teachers how to teach in their classroom.
- Tell parents how to parent at home.
Multi-tiered Systems of Support:
As part of the district’s multi-tiered systems of support, all elementary school counselors offer students the opportunity to participate in small groups throughout the year. These groups help to support the social and emotional development of students, which has a positive influence on academic development and success.
Students are primarily selected for small group lessons through the Social, Academic, Emotional Behavior Risk Screener (SAEBRS). The goal of the universal school-wide screener, which is completed three times a year by teachers, helps to identify students for added support. Additionally, a parent/guardian, teacher, and/or administrator may refer a student for small group participation.
Small groups consist of 3-5 students in the same grade who meet on a weekly basis for 6-8 weeks. Each meeting will be approximately 20 minutes in length and will take place during the school day. During group meetings, students will have the opportunity to learn new skills and behaviors through discussion of ideas, feelings, behaviors, attitudes, and opinions. The students will participate in a variety of activities relating to the group topic. These activities may include drawing, playing games, self-regulation, and practicing new behaviors. Students are occasionally asked to practice their new skills with family members and friends.
Parents will receive written notification and/or a phone contact if their child is selected for small group lessons and will have the opportunity to opt out of these additional lessons. Students must have parent permission to participate.
Please reach out to our elementary counselors if you have questions or information you would like to share.
Elementary School Counselors:
- Eric Gross [email protected], Wilson
- Jim Schlarbaum [email protected], James
- Cindy Schlegel [email protected], Douma
- Sydney Schneckloth [email protected], Liberty 4-5
- Shellie Stevens,[email protected], Horace Mann
- Holly VanDeKieft holly.[email protected], Liberty 2-3
- Potential Achievers: The Ottumwa Schools partners with Southern Iowa Mental Health Center to provide counseling services to students. Parent permission is required and services are free. Check with your school counselor for information.
- Food Pantry: James and Douma operate school food pantries that are open weekly after school from 3:15 to 4 p.m. during the school year. Contact the school for details.
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