School psychologist Mary Sherlach was one of the first victims shot during the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. Her death illustrates the physical and emotional burden school counselors take on to protect our children, but are we asking too much? Washoe County school counselor Allan Ritchie says "no". "That's their job," he says "So I think they take that on willingly, and if you asked the counselors they'd probably say we need more school counselors, because there's more and more problems we're hearing at younger and younger years."
While not all tragic events can be prevented, knowing the threats facing students before a crisis happens is the key to a positive outcome. That's why counselors with the Washoe County School District headed back to the classroom Friday, putting the focus on issues threatening modern students. The mini-conference dubbed "Getting Back to Our Roots" offered attendees an option of 5 different classes. The agenda follows national trends, including classes on families struggling with substance abuse, understanding technology and sexual identity issues. In a seminar on how to spot suicidal behavior, the instructor pointed out that nevada has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation. In another classroom, an FBI specialist explained the problem of human trafficking in our area, citing a recent bust by the Reno Police Department Street Enforcement Team.
This professional development day falls during National School Counselors Week. Training and networking events will continue in Downtown Reno this weekend. On another note, Vicki Warner Huggins has been nominated as Nevada's School Counselor of the Year. She will be representing the state at a national conference in Philadelphia this summer, and could even win he national title.