This semester, my internship is at Falmouth Elementary School in Stafford, VA. I found this internship under UMW’s psychology internship page where I was looking for an opportunity to work with a school counselor. In high school, I loved my school counselor so much that I made sure my fourth block was free so that I could spend time outside the counselor’s offices in the lounge in case they needed someone to run counseling passes. I did this because even in high school I could see just how important her job was and how often she was engaging with students. I found the most intriguing part of her job to be how she was able to get to know students personally. This helped her to make individualized schedules, give direction with future career goals, and help students in regard to an academic setting and academia itself. So, I wanted to get experience doing this myself.
Being placed at an elementary school was not my first choice since I wanted to do more of the scheduling and college preparation aspect; however, I am learning just how crucial it is that these younger kids get exposed to good coping skills, conflict resolution, and how to have a growth mindset at an early age. This not only helps them in the moment; like when they come into the office when they are upset, but it helps lay the foundation of important skills to have which they will build on throughout their whole education.
In this internship specifically, I have gotten to help with several organizations offered at the elementary school. One of these is the 5th Grade Ambassadors. These are students who have decided they want to be good role models and leaders. On my first day, I got the opportunity to take a field trip with them to the Sheriff’s office. The field trip was a reward and symbol of what good leaders look like in our community. Another organization I got to observe was the Purple Up Club. This club is for students with a parent in the military. The one time I’ve gotten to observe them so far, they were also talking about leadership; people they can look up to and become. In addition, I am helping with another organization called Reading Buddies. This group consists of 5th graders who meet in the cafeteria to read to the first graders so that the first graders one, get experience with older students, and two, get more exposure in an area where they are currently struggling.
In addition to these organizations I have also gotten to be a part of classroom lessons and some one-on-one sessions (with permission) where the counselor does an activity based on a specific topic. For example, one topic was on goal setting and goal achievement. In this classroom lesson, the students listed one language they would like to learn, one place they would like to go, or one thing they would like to become better at, etc. The second part of the activity included them making a 4 step plan that they would use to reach that goal.
Overall, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to work with a supervisor where I can ask questions and learn from her experiences to see if this is the career I want to pursue. I am also thankful that I got placed in an elementary school rather a high school because I knew I wanted to work in a high school, but now I’m also considering elementary school.