HPS Counseling is Unique and Exceptional
Under the leadership of the Assistant to the Superintendent for Educational Services and Student Outcomes, Ms. Carolyn Probst, the counseling department of the Hauppauge Public School District is dedicated to increasing post-secondary opportunities for all students. The mission is to expand the number and variety of college acceptances and the offers received and to help open doors of find ways to make private colleges more in line with SUNY schools for affordability. Counselors work with students to understand the rationale behind considering a two-year school, a four- year school, the military, or pursuing a trade. The idea is to get the information to HPS students earlier than high school. What makes Hauppauge special is that, unlike any other school district on Long Island, the focus begins with students in the elementary schools.
There is a counselor in each elementary school. There are two counselors in the Middle School and five counselors in the High School. The elementary counselors do a full “College and Career Week” in the end of January. During that week, a lot of events are planned including a panel of professionals from colleges and a Career Day. Ms. Pat Gabrielsen was a high school counselor and is now in the Forest Brook Elementary School. She brings her first-hand experience of the admissions process to the elementary students. Ms. Toby Poveromo works closely with the students at the Bretton Woods Elementary School. Kerry Malone at the Pines has been working on Stony Brook visits for all 5th graders.
Ms. Malone shared her perspective about the work that is being done on behalf of HPS’s youngest learners. She said, “I’d say our objectives are to provide a cohesive school counseling curriculum to all students, grades K through 5. We do this through school-wide activities, programming, classroom lessons, small group counseling, and individual counseling. School-wide programming includes Red Ribbon Week in October, College & Career Week in January, Random Acts of Kindness Week in February, and Respect for All Week in March. Classroom lessons cover a variety of topics, such as friendship skills, teamwork, empathy, kindness, respect, college and career readiness, personal safety and decision making, and middle school transition.
Small group counseling typically focuses on the areas of social skills, friendship, anger management, changing families, study skills, and middle school transition, among others as needed. Individual counseling is typically solution-focused, working on skills to help a student with academic and/or social/emotional needs. Additionally, the elementary counselors play a role in preparing for new groups of kindergarten students each year. This process begins in the springtime with our week-long Kindergarten Screening process, which involves meeting the children and parents, observing the social/play skills of the children, and administering the DIAL-4 screening tool, with a team of teachers, in order to see each child’s skill levels. Outside of direct contact with students, the counselors in each building also maintain Infinite Campus, our student data system, for all students. Lastly, we are available to support our students and families in need through community outreach.
It is always rewarding to see students practicing the skills we work on, using the language and strategies that they are learning through the multiple modes of instruction. Particularly with the school-wide programming, the students remember our activities from year to year and show genuine excitement to be taking part in activities again. The most rewarding part of our role is being a safe, consistent adult in the school, one whom all students know and can connect with during their entire elementary experience.”
When students get to the Middle School, counseling continues in the capable hands of Mr. Erik Clark and Ms. Andrea Olivero. Continuity is important throughout the entire educational process. As seen at the elementary level, care is taken to focus on the transition to the next level. When students are in the eighth grade, HHS Counselor Mr. Greg Foster spends time with the students to prepare them for the move to the high school. Peer training is a very effective tool in any facet of education. Mr. Foster enlists the aid of HHS students to help the eighth graders enjoy a smooth transition to the high school. Once at the high school, peer mentoring continues in a program called “Ignition.”
Mr. Foster explains, “Ignition is a peer mentoring program that pairs small groups of freshmen with upperclassman to ease the transition into high school. The groups meet once a month throughout the year in the freshmen Physical Education classes. We do different activities each much to help the freshmen feel more comfortable with their classmates and to get to know, get advice and to work with great role models. Ignition was started in the 2007/8 school year by the then Assistant Principal Mr. Piciullo and myself. It is now run by myself and Ms. Angela Braun, special education teacher.
I think the program has been very successful. My main measuring stick for that is the number of freshmen that apply each year to become a mentor in their Sophomore year. When we interview them for the position they typically reference how much they enjoyed the program and how much it has helped them in feeling more comfortable in the school. Many of the mentors have reported back that it has helped them get into leadership roles at their respective colleges.
The community is fortunate to live in a district that created a unique 9th grade counselor position. At the time it was created, we were one of the only schools in Suffolk County that had a position like that. M more and more schools have since added such a position. I love working with the freshmen every year and I think having a dedicated 9th grade counselor gives them the support and guidance they need to have a successful high school career.”
Mr. Foster works side by side with four other exceptional counselors. They are Ms. Katie Bartlett, Ms. Heather Hiotis, Ms. Danielle Montera and Ms. Marisa Wanatick. The HHS counselors implement Dr. O’Hara’s brilliant innovation known as the College Awareness Program.
College Awareness Tours are being planned for the 8th graders and one for the 10th grade.
Last year high school kids took a day-trip to Connecticut to see Yale University (https://www.yale.edu/), Quinnipiac University (https://www.qu.edu/), and Sacred Heart University (http://www.sacredheart.edu/).
Yale is open to bigger class visits and to hosting younger students. So, this year the 8th graders should see Yale.
On December 21st, the 7th graders visited St. John’s University in Queens where they got to see a Women’s Basketball game and tour the campus.
On February 27, HHS will give an official ACT at the high school during the school day. Every 11th grader is going to take it at no additional cost to the parents. Statistically, students who take the ACT on a school day as opposed to a Saturday tend to score higher.
This year saw many more college representatives visiting HHS in the fall where students can ask questions directly to the colleges in which they have an interest.
As of November 1st, 106 HHS students have sent 594 applications to around 180 different colleges. Since November 1st, the number of applications sent out from HHS students is now over one thousand. In the past five years, the number of applications submitted to colleges by the November 1st deadline increased from 84 to 289. This indicates a culture shift in students’ awareness about college applications and being savvy about the process and the advantage to applying early.
Bretton Woods Elementary: Toby Poveromo
Forest Brook Elementary: Pat Gabrielsen
Pines Elementary: Kerry Malone
Middle School: Erik Clark & Andrea Olivero
High School: Katie Bartlett, Greg Foster, Heather Hiotis, Danielle Montera, & Marisa Wanatick
Click on this graphic below to see the Eagle Watch interview with Ms. Probst: