Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program
RIDGECLIFF MIDDLE SCHOOL
HALIFAX REGIONAL CENTRE FOR EDUCATION
In June, 1996, Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea (B-L-T) School was chosen by the Department of Education to pilot a Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program during the 1996-1997 school year. Representing the Halifax Regional School Board, B-L-T School was one of seven sites across the province.
In August, 1996, training was provided by the Department of Education for school guidance counsellors and representatives from school administration. In October, 1996, a full-day inservice was held at B-L-T School to explain the Program to staff members. The Design Phase took place during the 1996-1997 school year and the Implementation Phase occurred during the following two years at B-L-T School. In September, 1999, the Program moved to the newly-built Ridgecliff Middle School—a school built in Beechville with students in Grades 6-9.
What is the Program?
A Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program is designed to assist the personal, social, educational and career development of students. It is a total school program that requires a professionally qualified guidance counsellor for full implementation. The Program is advised by a committee consisting of a school guidance counsellor, school administrators, teen health centre coordinator, teachers, non-teaching staff, students, parents, and community members.
A Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program has defined benefits and outcomes for all students and is developed locally through needs assessments within provincial guidelines. There are four main components:
(I) Guidance Curriculum
Structured experiences presented systematically through classroom and group activities.
(II) Professional Services
Counselling, consultation and coordination activities to meet the immediate needs and concerns of students.
(III) Life/Career Planning
Activities, which assist students to monitor and manage their own learning and make plans for life & career development.
(IV) Program Management & System Support
Activities, which establish, manage, maintain and enhance the Program.
A Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Advisory Committee is formed at the beginning of each school year. The Advisory Committee, coordinated by the school guidance counsellor, is comprised of school administrators (principal and vice principal), teen health centre coordinator, teachers, non-teaching staff, students, parents, and community members. The purpose of the committee is to give members an opportunity for valuable and meaningful input into guidance and counselling programs and services. Its mandate is to conduct a needs assessment at the school and determine what resources are available to meet those needs. Ongoing evaluation takes place throughout the school year.
Each school year, a needs assessment is conducted as part of the Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program. The first needs assessment, conducted in 1996, included a school-wide survey of students, staff, and parents/guardians. Another example of a needs assessment was in 2008 when members of the Advisory Committee participated in a two-day Symposium at the Nova Scotia Teachers Union Building, entitled, “Enhancing Education and Health at Ridgecliff Middle School.” A Community of Practice in Education and Health, the two-day Symposium was sponsored by the Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program and the Health Promoting Schools Initiative at Ridgecliff. On the first day of the Symposium, guest speakers were brought in from the Halifax Regional School Board, Child and Youth Strategy, Community Justice Society, IWK Health Centre (CHOICES Program), RCMP, and other agencies. On the second day of the Symposium, the needs of the school continued to be assessed and a strategic plan was devised to address the needs of the school. According to information obtained at the time from students, teachers, non-teaching staff, administrators, parents, and community members, the top three priority issues were: School Culture; Addressing Substance Abuse; and Healthy Eating and Nutrition.
School Year Goals
The above three issues continue to be goals that the entire school can work on during the school year and additional goals are added each year, based on the annual needs assessment. The strategic plan developed at the Symposium supports the School Climate goal that is infused into the school’s Student Success Plan. The Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings that are attended by Healthy Living teachers, school guidance counsellor, and teen health centre coordinator also support the School Climate goal. Each school year, focus groups are held with stakeholders to determine the needs at the school. An evaluation of programs and services is ongoing.
Inventory of Resources
Another focus of the Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program is to continue the work that has been done in establishing an Inventory of Resources. The intent is to establish a database of available and needed school resources related to Guidance and Counselling and Health Promotion.
The B-L-T Teen Health Centre
The B-L-T Teen Health Centre continues to be an important component of the Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program at Ridgecliff Middle School. The Centre grew out of a Primary Health Care Project in the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea community, which was established by the Department of Health to identify the community’s health and social needs. Although many needs were identified, one of the priority areas was teen health. Residual funds from the Primary Health Care Project were invested back into the community, establishing a Teen Health Centre in January, 1996. The B-L-T Teen Health Centre was the first teen health centre in Nova Scotia to be established at the junior high school level. It is located in the Guidance area at Ridgecliff Middle School and is staffed by a Coordinator who has an academic degree in one of the health professions.
The Advisory Committee worked diligently over the years to secure funding for the continuation of the Teen Health Centre. In the past, funding was received from the school’s Parent-Teacher Co-Op, private businesses, corporate donations, Metro United Way pledges, the Nova Scotia Department of Health, and fundraising by the school community. The Coordinator’s part-time position is now funded through the Nova Scotia Health Authority. The Coordinator’s role is to work closely with the student-run “Teen Health Advisory Committee,” to provide resources, programs, and information on health-related topics, and to make referrals for students in Grades 6-9. The purpose of the B-L-T Teen Health Centre is to increase access to information, resources, and services that promote healthy living for students and the Centre’s main function is to encourage students to take responsibility for their own health.
Future of the Program
The Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program was very successful during the first three years at B-L-T School and continued its success when it moved to Ridgecliff Middle School in 1999. There is ongoing evaluation each year, and the programs and services offered are based on the needs throughout the school year. The Program will continue with its mandate to operate in the four domains related to the personal, social, educational, and career development of students at Ridgecliff Middle School, addressing the needs of students in the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea (B-L-T) community.
For more information regarding the Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Program, please contact the Coordinator:
Janice Graham-Migel, PhD
School Guidance Counsellor
Ridgecliff Middle School
Halifax Regional Centre for Education
35 Beech Tree Run, Beechville, Nova Scotia B3T 2E5
TEL: (902) 876-4381, extension 7051239
FAX: (902) 876-4385