Refusing to go to school: How one school counselor helped

When anxiety is affecting a student's ability to go to school, the first step for a school counselor is to build a relationship. And that is what school counselor Rosary Pennington did when a new seventh-grade student found school too overwhelming.

"I started by building a relationship with her so that she would be comfortable enough to at least come into school and sit in my office so that she could be in attendance and work on school work," Pennington said.

Pennington encouraged the student to attend class and even escorted her to some classes. Gradually, the student became more comfortable attending certain classes.

Pennington, as the school counselor, worked closely with the parents, the family doctor, the student's therapist, and other educators to meet this student's specific needs.

"I had several discussions with her to reassure her and to work on some coping skills," Pennington said. "Her parents and I worked hard to discourage her avoidance behaviors at the start of some school days."

A 504 Plan was implemented, and for a while, the student spent half her day in class and half her day in Pennington's office. Today, the student is attending all her classes, returning to Pennington's office to decompress during study hall.

"I am very pleased with her progress, and she and her mother have shared their appreciation of all myself, my secretary, and the school have done for her in this transition," Pennington said.

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