STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, CULTURE, YOUTH AFFAIRS, FISHERIES AND AGRICULTURE
HONOURABLE NATALIO D. WHEATLEY
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2019
BUILDING BETTER HUMANS
Educational institutions perform important roles in the development of any society and to show appreciation for this, we often acknowledge the contributions of principals and teachers. But there is a small but growing segment of persons that needs to be celebrated. Those are our school counsellors.
As we celebrate School Counselling Week, February 3-7, I would like to remind our entire community of the significance of counsellors in our children’s lives. Counsellors are charged with planning programmes for the psychological, academic, and social development of our students in primary and secondary schools. This involves helping students to adjust to school life, and to cope with issues such as time management, relationship building, exam preparation, academic difficulties, career choices and academic programme selection. And if that was not enough, counsellors must engage students in counselling sessions. Counselors must also advocate for students, coordinate the development of intervention plans as well as partner with others to develop individual education plans for those needing additional supports.
“School Counsellors: Helping Build Better Humans” is the theme for School Counselling Week, which focuses on the work and accomplishments of those who dare to be school counsellors. It takes commitment and courage, sensitivity and care, persistence and intellect to undertake the task of a school counsellor anywhere. School counsellors in the Virgin Islands share the same herculean mission of promoting the social, intellectual and emotional growth of our students so that they become better humans. Counsellors are indeed helping to build better humans!
We see this as counsellors work with more than 3000 students each academic year in whole class sessions, individual sessions and small group sessions. They spend hundreds of hours each school year interacting with students, school staff and parents in meetings or conferences. Reports on student issues, consultations with principals and organizing projects related to career guidance and personal development are critical aspects of a school counsellor’s portfolio.
How does this impact our schools? Many students, parents and educators can attest to changes, improvement and progress that students exhibit because of the intervention of school counsellors. Consider the following scenarios that are actual reports from a school administrator.
A responsible mother was built because a school counsellor pointed a once indifferent, careless young lady on the path of self-confidence and pride. A male teenager who saw violence as the only response to challenges is now the leading partner in a business. Perhaps you may have even met an individual who was developmentally delayed, but with a well-developed Intervention or Individual Education Plan, has become a productive employee, a better human, and you could not tell that there were difficulties.
School counsellors, your legacy of building better young people for this territory is invaluable. As time goes on your influence will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of our young people, their families and our Virgin Islands. I take immense pride and pleasure in your achievements thus far. I salute you all and pledge to be your enthusiastic supporter in all that you do to build better Virgin Islanders.