Welcome to the MRA Counseling Page

Kevin Farris, MRA Student Support Specialist

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Vision Statement

The goal of the MRA school counseling department is to provide comprehensive, developmentally appropriate supports that address the mental health, social-emotional, and academic needs of all students regardless of identities. Through advocacy, teaching, leadership, collaboration, and partnership the student support specialist is a professional student advocate that works with school staff, family members, and outside organizations/providers to empower student wellness and reduce barriers to access and academic success. The goal of the support specialist include teaching students nonviolent communication, self-advocacy, use of strategic coping skills, and to address areas that may be negatively impacting their access to learning in order to become successful, engaged lifelong learners that become upstanding citizens.

Mission Statement

The mission of the MRA Counseling Department is to engage in equitable practices to assist all students in gaining access to quality education through a focus on mental health, social and emotional learning, nonviolent communication, and addressing systemic issues that may act as a barrier. I perform the following roles in order to promote positive development in academic, career, and social/emotional domains:

 

  • Classroom and whole group lessons

  • Small group counseling

  • Individual counseling

  • Referrals to mental health, physical health, and other outside resources

    • Under some cases I can provide brief, intermittent mental health interventions until a licensed provider is available

  • Observing students in various environments

  • Supporting and educating school staff on best practices and individual care

  • Responding to school crises

  • Collaboration with caregivers

  • Small student-caregiver counseling

  • Provide information to and connect families with resources

  • Address issues of equity

Responsibility to Students

The professional school counselor:

  • Has a primary obligation to the student, who is to be treated with respect as a unique individual.

  • Is concerned with the educational, academic, career, personal and social needs and encourages the maximum development of every student.

  • Respects the student’s values and beliefs and does not impose the counselor’s personal values.

  • Is knowledgeable of laws, regulations and policies relating to students and strives to protect and inform students regarding their rights.

  • Works to reduce barriers to academic success by addressing equitable treatment of each student regardless of race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion/spiritual practice, ethnicity, and/or physical/intellectual ability.

Confidentiality

The professional school counselor:

  • Keeps information confidential unless disclosure is required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the student or others or when the student discloses abuse or neglect necessitating legal requirements demanding that confidential information be revealed.

  • Recognizes their primary obligation for confidentiality is to the student but balances that obligation with an understanding of the legal and inherent rights of parents/guardians to be the guiding voice in their children’s lives.

  • Classroom guidance begins the first week of school. I introduce myself  to the students and tell them what a school counselor does and the services that I offer.

  • There are three main types of counseling that we do at MRA based on need: individual counseling, small group counseling, and classroom guidance. 

  • The support specialist collaborates with students, school staff, caregivers, and outside professionals to address barriers to academic success and to steward a school environment that is equitable to all students and encourages their educational growth.

Title IX

Kevin Farris is working toward taking over coordination of Title IX at our school. Title IX is a federal education law that prevents any entity receiving public funding from discriminating or providing inequitable access based on gender. Title IX states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

 For any inquiries related to gender discrimination or inequitable access of the basis of gender please review Federal Title IX regulations, and contact Kevin Farris or file a complaint on this provided link.

Counseling During Distance Learning

During this time of Comprehensive Distance Learning I will be maintaining all of the roles below. Since we will not be physically on campus I do plan to run individual and group meetings with students via Google Meets and Zoom. Access to my school Classroom Page will be available for all students and families, and access to my calendar for anyone that wants to schedule a meeting with me will be linked and available there. I will be updating my Google Classroom page regularly as I find resources for students and caregivers, as well as video recordings of lessons I teach for any student and caregiver that are unable to attend synchronous morning meetings.

Duties and Roles

Guidance Curriculum

I regularly attend classes to teach students curriculum on a myriad of subjects. These are often scheduled as well as taught when a staff member or another student reports specific concerns. Some of these topics include:

  • Bullying

  • Mental Health and wellness

  • Social and emotional learning and skills

  • Grief

  • Trauma

  • Academic guidance and success (as well as 8th grade forecasting for high school)

  • Careers

  • Conflict Management

  • And self-advocacy

Each lesson is designed with each grade level in mind and taught with National Standards and appropriate developmental age.

During Comprehensive Distance Learning this will often look like me attending scheduled morning meetings to teach a lesson 1-2 times per month.

 

Responsiveness and Prevention

This is the “reactive” part of the job.  I meet with individual students or small groups of children to help them determine solutions to their problems.  Some of the issues addressed would be academic concerns, relationship/friend concerns, and grief, loss and family issues. I, along with the teachers am mandated to report abuse cases.  I am involved in facilitating the child’s recovery and adjustment, and in some cases can assist in providing some solution-focused mental health assistance as a bridge until a student is able to enroll in mental health therapy.  I frequently contact and meet with families/caregivers to inform them about what is going on in the lives of their child(ren) and offer different skills lessons to adult caregivers. Once per month I hold a time where groups of parents and I meet to discuss topics, build support networks of other families in the school community, and receive expertise and advice from one another. 

Included in prevention I attend classes with students to teach and inform them about laws and legal implications of some of their behaviors. This includes things such as:

  • Online/web use

  • Cyberbullying

  • Sexting and harassment

  • Healthy relationships

  • Oregon’s Measure 11

 

I believe that each student has the desire to be an upstanding human, and that errors and defaults from this typically come from a lack of knowledge, awareness of harm/wrongdoing’s impact, and a lack of preventative education. My hope is to help facilitate conversations in a non-shaming but informative way to help our students gain information that will lead them to being nonviolent and healthy adults.

System Support

This includes doing work within the school as a system to address equitable access to education for all students. This may include writing grants, educating school staff on various topics concerning part of our student population, attending and running school/student clubs and committees, classroom observations, and working with groups of caregivers and the Executive Director.

Individual Planning

Individual planning entails collaborating with the student’s caregiver and teacher to facilitate the achievement of the student’s academic, personal/social and career goals. My goal is to make sure student voices are always heard in their plans we create, especially knowing that meeting with a room full of adults may be intimidating, so I meet individually with a student before any planning meetings to capture anything they may want said, as well as any talking points they may need to be reminded of during these planning meetings. This may involve creating an academic or personal intervention plan or collaborating with a team to create a 504 plan.