LAPS Celebrates National School Counseling Week

Barranca Mesa Elementary School Counselor Alyssa Romero distributes donated school supplies to students in need. Photo Courtesy LAPS


National School Counseling Week 2021, “School Counselors: All in for All Students,” sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), is being celebrated this week.

National School Counseling Week 2021 focuses public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within United States’ school systems and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do.

National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

Los Alamos Public Schools is fortunate to have 15 school and clinical counselors helping more than 3,500 students in grades PreK through 12 at 10 school sites, including:

  • five elementary;
  • one middle school;
  • one high school;
  • Topper Freshman Academy;
  • Topper Virtual Academy; and
  • Los Alamos Online Academy.

The counselors at the high school cover the three areas of student development including academic, college and career and social/emotional.

“We offer counseling curriculum in the classroom to meet all the students’ needs in addition to direct and indirect services,” LAHS Counselor Cindy Black said. “Each counselor has their areas of expertise and has taken on programming and activities related to that expertise. We are happy to be a resource and advocate for parents, students, and teachers. School counselors really are an integral part of the education system.”  

“I love being a school counselor and helping students be successful in all areas of their life,” said Cara Michel, 8th grade counselor for the middle school and LAOLA. “We help students develop social, academic, and emotional skills to help them not only be successful in school but also later in life.”

“Being a school counselor is a rewarding job where you try to make a difference in a student’s life,” Barranca Counselor Alyssa Romero said. “It is heartwarming when a student you helped with a situation comes back a few days later to report that they are doing better or that they were able to solve the issue they had and now feel confident if they had to deal with that type of situation again.”

“The best part of being a counselor is being able to work with young children and to try to be a positive influence in their lives,” LAOLA Counselor Emily Gartz said.

School counselors often share their areas of expertise with others in the district. For instance, Michelangelo Lobato, school counselor at Chamisa Elementary, is experienced in dealing with behavioral issues, trauma and grief. Cara Michel’s theoretical orientation is Reality Therapy, which is decision-making and planning to achieve specific goals and having your needs met.

ASCA states that school counselors are highly educated, professionally certified individuals who help students succeed in school and plan their career. An integral part of the total education system, school counselors help students form healthy goals, mindsets and behaviors.

With the aid of a school counselor, students learn to develop effective collaboration and cooperation skills, to practice perseverance, to develop time management and study skills, and to learn self-motivation and self-direction habits. 

“As a school counselor, I work to help students discover their passions and their talents during their time at Los Alamos High School,” Cristin Haake said. “School counselors also take on the charge of helping students plan for life after high school. I have been a school counselor now for over 7 years and have enjoyed bringing healthful, stress-relieving activities like yoga, Make-Your Own Aromatherapy Dough, National Gardening Day: Grow Your Own Plants, and resilience-building challenges for our students.” 

The social and emotional well-being of students is also important at the elementary level.

“School counselors support the social and emotional well-being of students, staff and families,” Piñon Counselor Yvette Byers said.  

School counselors are also there to support staff. “We are a listening ear to staff members and help them access resources,” LAMS Counselor Jennifer Neil said. “We plan fun activities for staff to facilitate team building and raise morale.”

“I believe that the main job of the school counselor is to be a person that kids and teachers can come to when they need to talk,” Lobato said.

“I absolutely love my job,” Neil said. “When all is said and done, it’s the most fun job ever!”

Thank you to LAPS School Counselors:

  • Aspen Elementary: Kimberly Pulliam
  • Barranca Elementary: Alyssa Romero
  • Chamisa Elementary: Michelangelo Lobato
  • Mountain Elementary: Jennifer Schmierer
  • Piñon Elementary: Yvette Byers
  • Los Alamos Middle School: Michelle Bane, Cara Michel and Jennifer Neil
  • Topper Freshman Academy: Michelle Harrison
  • Los Alamos High School: Cindy Black, Cristin Haake and Dawn Watkins
  • Los Alamos Online Academy: Emily Gartz, Angelic Martinez and Victoria Roybal