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Dynamic duo designs dream Counselor’s Cove

Jennifer Brooks and Amber McCartney hold the NEISD way sign

The Counselor’s Cove inside Thousand Oaks Elementary School is a dream office for Jennifer Brooks and Amber Irving. As counselors and former teachers, they had a vision for a safe space where progress is disguised as play.

“They think they’re coming in here to play but actually they’re leaving with the practice and skills they need to be successful in the classroom,” said Irving. “They want to come in and explore. They feel safe and comfortable and when a student has that we’ve found that the trust is there and they’re comfortable opening up to us. There’s good energy in here.”

The Counselor’s Cove has something for every child to connect with – from sensory items to toys and a sand tray for them to act out what may be bothering them. There’s also an area for teachers to decompress and a special space for those grieving the loss of a loved one to talk about them or bring an item as a tribute.

“We use it as an area for classes to come in for guidance,” said Brooks. “We also use it as an area for kids to come in for breaks when they’re having a hard time in class and they need somewhere to decompress. We also do individual counseling and parent trainings in here and it’s a really great for the PALS to hang out when they come to visit.”

The friendship between Amber and Jennifer is just as dynamic as their immersive Counselor’s Cove. The two met as teachers when Las Lomas Elementary School opened 10 years ago. They both worked toward their Counseling degree and finally reunited at Thousand Oaks. Amber splits her time between Thousand Oaks and Wetmore Elementary School. But regardless of which campus they’re on, both agree the relationships they build with the kids keeps them coming back year after year.

“The kids keep us coming back,” said Brooks. “A lot of times kids don’t have access to clinicians or counselors except for at school. Kids at this age are just so moldable. They’re so willing to come in and pour their heart out to you and they’re so trusting. It’s important to get in and do some preventative work to help them weather whatever storm they face in life.”

Feb. 7-11 is recognized as National School Counseling Week, to focus attention on the unique contribution of school counselors and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do.

Join us in thanking Amber, Jennifer and all North East ISD counselors for all they do for our students.

Posted by Lila Stanley