Honored school counselor says she is just like her colleagues

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) A middle school counselor says she’s no different than her colleagues when it comes to helping kids. Nevertheless, Gov. Steve Sisolak recognized Arika Marquez in his State-of-the-State Address. Marquez says school counselors have a role to play in school safety.

"We cannot expect to successfully address violence and issues in our schools unless we invest in people like Arika Marquez, who is here with us tonight. Arika is a counselor at Clayton Middle School in Reno. By doing her job every day, counselors like Arika are preventing violence, helping students, and saving lives," said Sisolak in his State-of- the-State Address in Carson City.

Arika Marquez says she didn't expect to get singled out in the governor's speech. She says her work with students is no different than her colleagues.

“But I have to say I don't do anything different than my other colleagues, and the feedback I am getting back from them is that they are honored by that too, because we are being recognized for the role we play in school safety. So counselors: the role we play, every day, every week, talking with students, making connections, hooking up parents with resources in our community,” says Marquez.

She says they often visit classrooms to let students know who they are and that their doors are always open.

There are students she sees every week, others over a longer period of time. Her job is to listen and help identify when an issue has the potential to harm the student himself, or when he or she could harm someone else.

The idea, she says, is to combat students' feeling of isolation and fear, and provide an atmosphere where the students don't feel alone.

“But is not just for suicide. It is to determine, does this student need help with depression or anxiety or, you know, coping. So we can do those types of screenings and get services to families that way,” says Marquez.

While she says there is room for physical security in schools, students must feel safe and secure by other means so they can excel scholastically. She says hopefully counselors can provide that tranquility.