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 (L-R) Brianna Murray, Melissa Putterman-Hoffmann, Rachel Harrison,
Caroline Testa, Jill Augustine, Ryan Steller and Rachel Teplitsky

National School Counseling Week, February 3–7, is an opportunity to appreciate the critical role school counselors, social workers and psychologists have on the student body. Their counseling support is essential to a student’s ability to achieve success in school, both emotionally and academically.

“Thanks to the forward thinking of our Board of Education, we have more support for our students’ social and emotional development than most schools in the area,” stated Dr. Cathie Allain, Berlin Middle–High School Principal.

It has been three years since the District’s Board of Education committed to having full-time psychologists in both the Middle–High and Elementary school buildings. This decision came several years after witnessing the positive impact of full-time social workers and counselors assigned to each school building.

The impact these professionals have on the students also includes preparing them to plan for their futures. National School Counseling Week shines a light on the work of these essential counselors.

The team in the Middle-High School includes two school counselors for students’ academic planning. There is also a student-assistance counselor with Rensselaer County for both students and families in need of further counseling and services.

“Our school counselors play an integral role in assisting members of the school community,” said Mrs. Tracy Kent, Berlin Elementary School principal. “Their role is to support our students and their overall well-being for academic and emotional success through instruction, counseling, and collaboration.”

According to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), “Elementary school years set the foundation for developing the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary for children to become healthy, competent and confident learners.”

Mr. Fred Hutchinson, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for the school district, reflected on the counseling staff’s impact on the district’s community:

“Each of the counselors in our district has contributed in enormous ways to the success of our students over the years, whether by helping them get into colleges, mapping pathways towards productive careers or providing them with appropriate mental health supports in times of crisis – the value of these individuals cannot be overstated.”

Berlin Central School District is grateful for its team of seven excellent counselors and their dedication to the success of each Mountaineer.

The counseling team at Berlin Elementary School is made up of Mrs. Ryan Stellar, School Counselor, and Ms. Rachel Teplitsky, School Psychologist. The team of Mrs. Stellar and Ms. Teplitsky works closely with the staff, parents and the community. They help build foundations for the younger students to become confident learners in a responsible, safe and respectful environment.

Principal Kent complimented the BES counseling team: “Mrs. Steller and Ms. Teplitsky are valuable resources, and we are fortunate to have their guidance and expertise in supporting our students.”

The five-member counseling team at the Middle–High School plays a major role in the students’ day-to-day activities and in achieving their next steps after graduation. The team: Mrs. Rachel Harrison, MSHS Counselor for last names beginning with A-I; Caroline Testa, MSHS Counselor for last names beginning with J-Z; Mrs. Melissa Putterman-Hoffman, Social Worker; Mrs. Jill Augustine, Student Assistance Counselor; and Ms. Brianna Murray, Psychologist.

Middle School is a time of self-identity, curiosity and physical growth, according to the ASCA.

Counseling helps students “achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set informed career goals and realize full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community.”

According to the ASCA, the high school experience allows for self-discovery and is a time to make and achieve goals for the future. Counselors are integral to a student’s ability to “realize their full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community.”

Middle-High School Principal Dr. Allain spoke about the team:

“Mrs. Putterman-Hoffman brings a deep wisdom and understanding of our district as a whole, but also, a rich understanding of the individual needs of children and their families. It is so helpful for me to have someone with so much knowledge of our families and ideas to support them.”

“Mrs. Augustine brings a depth of knowledge and understanding of many areas of mental health and substance abuse treatment. However, at the end of the day she is truly an advocate for each and every student and the families she works with. In addition, her connections through Rensselaer County improve the overall options we have for our children.”

“Mrs. Harrison has done an incredible job as our school counselor for several years now. She has really helped to drive our counseling department into a more progressive program with ideas that greatly benefit the future of our students. She is a consistent support for students in need and their families.”

“Ms. Testa is new to the district this year but is already making her mark. She has assisted in developing the preliminary schedule for next year, bringing a fresh perspective and focus to what we do. I am delighted she has come to share her wealth of knowledge with us.”

“Ms. Murray has made a significant impact on the way in which we support students’ needs. She is a true advocate for those who require specialized interventions. Her knowledge base on how to support students with unique needs has truly helped us to develop meaningful programming.”

The teams at the Middle–High School and Elementary levels work together to ensure students have smooth transitions from school to school. Each counseling staffer’s expertise benefits every individual student in the district.

Mr. Hutchinson said, “As we look to the future, with the emergence of social-emotional standards in education and the increased need for school–community partnerships, the contributions of our counselors will be pivotal to the success of our Berlin School District.”