My name is Maddy Meyerhoffer. I am a junior from Greensboro, North Carolina double majoring in Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Health and Society. My background includes both research and educational experiences. I have worked in Dr. Anna Bardone-Cone’s Eating Disorder Lab which investigates a potential implicit weight bias among minority women. I also volunteered at an elementary school working with ESL students and collaborating with ESL teachers. The Gil Internship gives me the opportunity to apply my knowledge, experience, and research skills to create an impact in the community while preparing me for graduate work in School Counseling.
As a Gil Intern, I am working at Smith Middle School in Chapel Hill with my mentor Steve Young who is an eighth grade School Counselor. Smith Middle School has a diverse student population which features a high ESL population and varying academic levels. In this role, I am assisting my mentor in the programs he implements to the eighth graders. One of these programs is the SECU Credit Union Reality of Money which gives real-life experience for eighth graders to learn about budgeting and saving money. I have assisted in developing the program logistics and program content with my mentor. I am also collaborating with my mentor on the high school registration program for eighth grade students. In addition to presenting information about registration to students, I have developed a conversational format to elicit feedback from the students to discuss their thoughts about planning for high school and beyond. This is an important part of the eighth grade school counseling curriculum as it encourages students to start planning for high school and to be prepared for careers or college after high school.
I am also collaborating with other Student Service Professionals at the school and throughout the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District. Every week there is a meeting which consists of the Principal, Assistant Principals, School Counselors, School Psychologist, School Nurse, School Social Worker, Behavioral Specialist, and Exceptional Child Coordinator. I am a part of this weekly meeting and it gives me greater insight into how a Student Service team works together on addressing student needs. I also attended a professional development conference for all of the school district School Counselors. This conference exposed me to many areas for which the School Counselors are responsible. I learned about the district updates on the revised School Counselor curriculum to implement when creating programming in the classroom and updated training for high school registration protocol.
Another key way in which I have learned more about School Counseling is by observing and engaging in the daily interactions of my mentor. This includes participating in parent and student meetings on a range of topics which has given me real-world experience in this field. I have been able to speak with students in groups and individually about questions they have on planning for high school, helping them calm down in stressful situations, and working with them to develop better self-esteem and confidence. School Counselors often work with teachers as well to serve as a support member to ensure the teachers understand how student needs can be met in the classroom. I have also observed interactions between my mentor and teachers regarding how teachers can be mindful of student personal issues outside of school when working with students on their academic needs. These observations have shown me the collaborative nature of a school counseling job and how school counseling fits into a student’s overall educational journey.
I am grateful for the opportunity that the Gil Internship has given me. I have learned in more extensive detail about the varied role a Middle School Counselor engages in on a daily basis and have learned about the key areas that School Counselors play in an academic setting. My interest in the field of School Counseling continues to grow through the hands-on experience the Gil Internship has given me.