It is 8:30 in the morning and students and teachers tiredly walk into school, still waiting for their morning dose of caffeine to hit. It is another school day, six grueling periods, until students are free again. But lately the mornings have had a bit of cheer at the doors: incoming students and staff are greeted with a friendly “hello” and smile from the counselors, staring their day off a little brighter than before.
For the last month, counselors decided to make this their morning routine for a few reasons. A lot of counselors’ work is behind the scenes, whether that is meeting with students or writing letters of recommendation or going to a meeting. The counselors’ goal, however, is to help everyone and to be more present, making sure everybody knows who the counselors are. That way, if students need anything, they know who they are looking for.
This was counselor Bre-Ann Richardson’s idea. At her previous campus, they greeted students at the door, and she pitched the idea to the counselors here at CHS. They liked it and agreed to implement it. Counselors know walking in the crowded hallways of CHS can be overwhelming, and if there is a teacher or staff member at the end of the hallway who yells “you’re gonna make it, you’re gonna be okay” — that could really turn someone’s day around.
Counselors also want to connect with their students on a more regular basis. Richardson says, “For us [counselors] those connections are big. Otherwise, when our day gets going it’s really hard just to be out and be present.”
Another counselor, Leontina Liebe, says, “We just want students to know that as a counseling team we see you, we appreciate you and value you as a human being”
Earlier this year, the counseling team tried to be more present at lunch, but that did not work because at lunch everyone is socializing. Plus, they discovered students wanted to see counselors in their offices at lunch. They found that “when students are first arriving on campus tends to be the least busy time but yet a really important part of setting the intention or the tone for the day,” says Mrs. Liebe. Mrs. Liebe would also like it if students would welcome other students with the counselors at the door.
Students also appreciate the counselors standing at doors. Sophomore Lindsey Burgener says “It’s really nice to see people that genuinely care about you. Yesterday my morning was brighter because of the smiling face of a counselor.”
The counselors have seen much improvement in the four weeks they have been doing this now. In the beginning, students would look down or away or try to avoid them but now they make eye contact, smile, and say hi back.
“I think that our hope is that starting and initiating a good day for students that they can continue to do that with each other as well. There are almost 2,300 students, so if everybody just took that extra time between classes and just said ‘hi’ to somebody they don’t know, even if it’s just a wave or a smile, like something simple, I think the impact would be huge” says Mrs. Richardson.