School districts in Ellis County are celebrating National School Counseling Week, Feb. 3 to 7.

The Red Oak Independent School District is served by 14 campus-based counselors and another four to five district-wide support counselors, the school district confirmed.

“Counselors are an integral part of the daily operation of a school,” District Superintendent Brenda Sanford said. “They work hand-in-hand with staff and administration to provide services to students including student course selection and academic decisions, college and career guidance, conflict management, planning action steps towards goals, and much more.”

“A counselor can be the oil to the wheel of unique student needs, diverse staff and student populations, and even parent-to-school relationships,” Sanford added. “We value and appreciate our wonderful school counselors for all they do for our students.”

Taking it a step further, Sanford is expected to deliver cookies to each school counselor on Thursday. The campuses have also planned some appreciation activities.

The Midlothian ISD has put the spotlight on its counselors with Facebook posts honoring them for their service.

“Our counselors help our students succeed by working with them to address any academic challenges or concerns, help them determine a roadmap for their future careers and support their social and emotional skills,” the district posted.

With students today dealing with a multitude of issues beyond the classroom, academic experts say the roles of school counselors have also evolved over the last few decades, which explains the shift from the term guidance counselor to school counselor to encompass the gamut of issues they handle.

“Bullying. Stress. Anxiety. Addiction. Academic challenges. Kids today, especially teenagers, are dealing with different – and in some cases, more – pressures and challenges than any young generation previous,” according to the Nov. 6, 2018 article – Why School Counselors are in High Demand - in The Edvocate, an online magazine created to advocate for education equity, reform and innovation.

“Although career and college planning are still a part of their job, most school counselors today are focused on preparing students to meet the challenges they will face academically and socially, so they can succeed both in school and beyond,” the author continued.

“For instance, counselors may work with groups of young children to help them develop skills for dealing with bullying or to build their self-esteem or provide training for high school students on how to handle conflict. Counselors also work with parents, teachers and administrators to identify students who need additional interventions and develop plans to help those students access the support they need,” the writer explained.

Congress officially established National School Counseling Week in 2006. It is celebrated every February.