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Counselors earn trust at Mill Creek
Principal, students rely on Dawn Beck, Lauren Webb
Unsung photo for Web
Dawn Beck, left, and Lauren Webb serve as counselors for Mill Creek Elementary's nearly 700 students. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special
      There are two women at Mill Creek Elementary School whose jobs require them to talk to the school's nearly 700 students on a regular basis. To most people, that may seem to be an almost Herculean task, but to Dawn Beck and Lauren Webb it is probably the best part of their jobs.
      According to Mill Creek Principal Patrick Hill, "I always consult with my counselors before I make any important decisions. Dawn and Lauren know all of our students personally, and quite often can read them like an open book, whereas I (being new to the school) don't know their personal histories.
      Beck is the full-time counselor at Mill Creek, whereas Webb serves as a part-time counselor at two schools, splitting her time between Mill Creek and William James Middle.
      Hill understands the importance of his counselors' role, stating, "They have to be a person a child can come in and talk to behind closed about something quite often they would really prefer their teachers not know. It is essential that there be a bond of trust, for without that the child will disclose virtually nothing."
      Beck described their student population as varied, explaining that they have everything from mildly disabled to the regular student populations that come from all economic backgrounds. Beck and Webb's days are divided between classroom lectures, individual counseling with students, parents, and staff or in making home visits.
       Beck and Webb believe that the use of medication is misunderstood, explaining, "We don't want a bunch of zombies in the classrooms, but our society has so much stimulation that some of our students just need some help to get a handle on their emotions. We work with their doctors to ensure they get the proper dosages."
      Parental discipline is another crucial component to their counseling styles. Beck shared that "We tell our students' parents that we expect their children to act just we expect our own kids to act when they are at home: nothing more and nothing less. We tell them we know they haven't raised them to act up and be disrespectful."
      Webb added, "We then go on to promise that we will do whatever it takes to see that their children are successful. We both enjoy going on home visits because it allows us to see just what the student is dealing with at home, which in turn allows us to better understand what kind of help they need from us at school."
      Beck commented that this close contact with the parents allows them to convince the parents that "We don't expect the parents to have to do everything all by themselves, and we are serious when we say we will help them in whatever ways we can if they would just let us know what that need is."
      Webb has more than 1,200 students in the two schools she serves.
      She said, "I enjoy moving between the elementary and middle school environments, because the two groups require totally different counseling techniques. My job often gets mentally, emotionally, and/or physically draining. Switching of gears as I move between schools is often rejuvenating."
      One thing is certain: These two ladies are committed to their students and their jobs.

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