Schools offer extended guidance hours

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sometimes it seems as though there are not enough hours in a day. Scheduling out your time can be a challenge, especially for working parents.

Luckily for the parents of high school in students Suffolk, the guidance departments at all three high schools hope to accommodate parents’ busy schedules, at least in one way.

All three schools will be extending guidance office hours for the convenience of parents and students on certain days over the next few months.

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Nansemond River High School will hold extended office hours from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. today, on Feb. 17 and on March 10; King’s Fork High School will hold extended office hours from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 15 and March 8; and Lakeland High School will set its extended hours soon.

The guidance departments in Suffolk Public Schools typically hold office hours between 7:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. Guidance staffs are available to meet with students and parents when the school buses arrive in the morning. Counselors are willing to meet with students and parents throughout the day; however, it is not always convenient for parents with concerns about their children to meet during regular school hours.

The extended schedule is intended to assist those parents who otherwise would not be available to meet with counselors during the guidance department’s regular scheduled hours, said Deborah Williams, guidance director for Nansemond River High School.

“It’s not easy to take time off during the work day,” said Charlene Jerlin, guidance director at Kings Fork High School. “So many of our parents, both mother and father, work and don’t get off till four. We are closed when they are available.”

All three schools have held extended hours before to accommodate the busy schedules of working parents, and they have been pleased with the results.

During evening sessions, guidance counselors extend the same services to parents and students that they offer during a regularly scheduled day. “We want to make our services more available, give them as many chances as we can to be involved in their child’s education,” Jerlin said.

According to Williams and Jerlin, students and parents don’t always tap into all of the services that the guidance department offers. They hope the extended hours help those parents see there are many ways guidance counselors can help students.

“We’re here to help students with academic, career, personal, and social challenges,” Jerlin said.

Guidance meets with students and parents to discuss scheduling, difficulties students have in a particular class, tutoring options, testing, organizational and study strategies and personal and social concerns.

Counselors will also meet with students and parents to discuss a plan of study, college and career planning, college applications, college application essays, scholarship opportunities and internship opportunities.

“It’s an opportune time to give information in advance and not wait for deadlines to arrive,” Williams said. “I think they should come in to tap into the resources in a one-on-one setting to look at options that can help the individual students.”

The response from parents during past extended hours sessions varied from night to night, and Kings Fork High School’s extended hours have seen a slow growth, according to Jerlin. Each school looks forward to offering this service to more parents.

“It’d be lovely to see five to six parents each night,” Jerlin said. “More is better.”