Student Counseling Program Offers Hope

Student Counseling Program Offers Hope
Posted on 12/12/2016

By David Stelmazewski

In this season of hope, I want to share with you some very special ways in which Boerne ISD is offering hope to students who are facing some of the most difficult and troubling kinds of challenges. I will start by saying that this is a positive message, even though the subject matter is often very difficult to talk about.

A little more than a year ago, Boerne ISD hired Dr. Holly Robles as our student assistance counselor. Dr. Robles is credentialed as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependence Counselor. She came to our district to fill a very specific need: to help give students hope when they are facing despair.

Dr. Robles has impacted the lives of a growing number of students in the relatively brief time she has been involved with the school district. The scope of her practice reads like an overwhelming list of responsibilities: anger management, alcohol and drug use counseling, healthy relationships, parenting, stress management, suicide awareness and prevention.

In that one area alone - suicide awareness and prevention - Dr. Robles has a growing influence both locally and statewide. She is an acknowledged statewide expert on the matter, having written a highly regarded guide on the topic and put into practice comprehensive crisis intervention practices in the district. Her work includes training for in suicide awareness for everyone from school counselors and new employees to bus drivers.

All instances of student suicide bring deep sadness to families, campuses and communities. In Texas recently, there have been some high profile cases involving students who were bullied or made to feel excluded to the point of deep depression and despair. Dr. Robles' work with students offers hope in such cases.

Collaboration with partners has been a critical component of Robles' early success. Groups including the Fair Oaks Ranch Rotary Club and the Texas National Guard have assisted with programs that identify bullying behaviors and establish positive campus environments. Often times, it is the enemy we can't see that poses the greatest threat to the safety of our children. Working with the FBI's Violent Crimes Against Children division, Dr. Robles recently conducted workshops for middle school children on the extreme dangers of cyber-bullying and online predators.

In the area of substance abuse prevention, Dr. Robles and our entire counseling team have worked to encourage students to discover joys and passions in a healthy lifestyle while avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. This program - LIVENATURALLYHIGH - has been a focal point for students at our secondary school campuses.

Teaming up with six prevention specialists from the San Antonio Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and JOVEN, Robles oversees a program that emphasizes positive self-esteem, resisting peer pressure and utilizing critical thinking to ward off pop culture images of illegal substances usage.

I could continue in my description of this very comprehensive, very aggressive program that seeks to assist our students and offer hope to those who may not currently see a hopeful path. But I want to close by thanking our community for being supportive of a truly cutting-edge initiative, one that offers the kind of hope we all seek to embrace in this season and throughout the year.

Merry Christmas and a very safe and happy New Year to all.

Boerne ISD superintendent David Stelmazewski is a public school education leader who has devoted his career to teaching, coaching and serving as administrator in Illinois and Texas.

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