National School Counseling Week
It’s National School Counseling Week, and to celebrate, honor and thank our wonderful counselors, we’re spotlighting them each day this week! Today, we’re featuring Wellness Counselors Sharon Todd and Chris Whitsell. They are not school counselors, but they provide wellness services to students.
Sharon Todd said she has the role of a mental health counselor, not a school counselor.
“I have always considered myself to be a helper, and I always knew I wanted to work with children and families,” she said. “My educational career began as a special education teacher. Very quickly, I knew I wanted to become a school counselor and support students' social/emotional wellbeing. Counseling is the perfect opportunity to do that because it allows me to work with the whole family.”
She is a certified school counselor and licensed mental health counselor. She spent 10 years as a school counselor prior to accepting her position as the district school wellness counselor. This is her third year in this role.
“A few years ago at a conference, school counselors were referred to as “hope dealers,” and this really resonated with me,” she said. “Being a counselor is just that. I love helping students find hope, even in the midst of life’s challenges. Students need as many people possible in their corner encouraging them and providing hope. I am grateful I can be one of those people.”
Todd works with all ages and loves it. She said she especially enjoys working with small children and using the play therapy approach to counseling.
“My interactions with students are always genuine and heart-felt,” she said. “Often times, I use humor in my interactions with students — laughter is good for the soul. I treat every student with the love, kindness, and respect I want others to show my own children.”
She said she loves the diversity of the district and enjoys collaborating with school counselors on a regular basis. She feels supported by school counselors, administrators and teachers and appreciates a partnership the district has with Whitsell Counseling and Supervision, LLC.
Chris Whitsell is a licensed clinical social worker and has a partnership with the district through his private practice, along with his wife, Christy Whitsell, and another LCSW, Ashley Arnold. He is not a district employee.
Following his early retirement, he had the opportunity to join the district through a community collaboration, then later was able to maintain the partnership with the district. He’s been involved in this capacity with the district for three years.
He meets weekly with Sharon Todd — Todd said Chris and Christy Whitsell are “phenomenal” to work with — and they work on things like connecting the district with a trauma-informed care collaboration with the University of Kentucky.
He seeks to provide trauma-informed care and understand the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs.
He’s worked with all ages, from infants to adults, and what keeps him passionate about working with children is “I’ve just seen over my 30 years of doing the work that the earlier that we can get involved and identify and support human beings, the greater the likelihood of a better trajectory of life.”
As a social worker, part of his role is to think about the environments children are in and the impacts of systems in which they are placed. Schools are an obvious place to work with children to help them lead more productive lives, which in turn benefits the community, he said.
About the district, he said, “What I like is the district has passionate, knowledgeable, diverse-minded professionals and workforce that really resonate with me, that help me feel like I can be a part of a district that’s genuinely concerned about embracing all kids.”
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