One of the hallmarks of the Schechter Westchester community is our commitment to the individual student. We believe that all children can and want to learn. We know our students as individuals with their own passions and needs, and we work to provide an academically, emotionally, and socially engaging, challenging, and supportive program for each child. Our task is to use information about the whole child and harness the resources of our faculty to help every student to grow and meet his or her potential as she or he navigates the challenging world of childhood development. Along those lines, our department serves as a liaison between home and school, integrating the powerful and unique perspective that a student’s family contributes to our overall understanding of a child.
The richness of our kehilah is strengthened by the talents, gifts, and challenges of each member. Students’ school and personal success is enhanced by strong family-school collaboration. We value and encourage parental perspectives on children and the issues families face with their own children.
We know each of our students as individuals with their own passions and needs, and work to provide an academically, emotionally, and socially engaging, challenging, and supportive program for each child. We incorporate an understanding of the many aspects of psychology which promotes a safe, caring, and respectful environment inside and outside the classroom.
The Counseling Department at Schechter Westchester is dedicated to meeting the educational, social, and emotional needs of students at each grade level. We recognize that developmentally the adolescent years are filled with transitions, challenges, and opportunities; the role of the dean is to provide ongoing support, guidance, and advocacy.
Deans (school counselors) are consistently integrated into student’s lives at school. In grades 9-11, each class has its own dean – a certified school counselor – who works with students, parents, and teachers. Deans travel with their students as they move from grade to grade until ultimately integrating with the college counseling team. As a grade leader, deans maintain a holistic view of each student’s overall progress as it develops throughout high school.
The aim is to create an open and ongoing relationship and dialogue between each student and his/her dean as they experience the exciting opportunities of adolescence. We aim to promote self-awareness, wellness, independence, and advocacy as our students navigate their way through our rigorous curriculum. Essential to our approach is the belief that collaboration between deans, psychologists, teachers, and families ensures that the needs and goals of every student are addressed, making the Schechter Westchester experience rich and rewarding. The deans have an open door policy and invite all questions and concerns.
Parents and faculty with concerns about a student are invited to speak with any member of the student support services team. Each member sees concerns through the lens of his or her own training and expertise. The department is comprised of grade-level deans, advisors, learning specialists, psychologists, a spiritual advisor, and the director of student services. Students may be referred to student support services in a variety of ways including parents, teachers, or their peers.
- Facilitate a smooth transition into high school for all students
- Primary liaison between students, parents, and teachers
- Build and maintain individual relationships with our students
- Lead student support team (SST) meetings in order to monitor and develop plans to address individual student needs
- Provide academic, social, and emotional support to students and families
- Collaborate with school psychologist and learning specialists to develop behavioral and/or academic plans
- Lead Advisory and seminar sessions in collaboration with school psychologist
- Work with students to develop appropriate sense of responsibility and encourage self-advocacy
- Create and facilitate support groups for students (divorce, stress management, etc.)
- Provide academic support and advisement: goal setting, course selection and post-high school planning
- Provide support to families as students transition into our High School
- Partner with families to address concerns about students
- Facilitate meetings between faculty, students, and parents
- Ongoing collaboration and problem-solving with faculty to monitor individual student progress
- Facilitate communication with parents
- Work closely with College Counseling
- Create sense of community by working closely with the Student Life Coordinator to develop and lead grade-wide programs and trips
- Work with students to develop leadership initiatives
- Monitor and address concerns of student kehilah
- Participate in school-wide and community events
- Work with logistics and coordination to plan High School activities
Every week, students meet in groups of about ten with a faculty advisor to engage in conversations that explore their role in the community. Advisory groups provide a safe space for students to address relevant issues and support one another as they navigate their experience through high school. The advisors are staff members trained and supervised by the High School Psychologist to assist student growth in a non-judgmental way. Through advisory, students have the opportunity to practice and develop positive attributes and skills such as self-expression, character development, responsibility, collaboration, decision-making, non-judgmental listening, providing and receiving feedback, and social interaction.
Advisory strives to:
- Make explicit the unique contribution and perspective of each group member
- Broaden self-awareness
- Develop respect for alternative perspectives
- Facilitate a caring relationship with an adult member of the Schechter Westchester community
- Promote questioning and identification of personal values
Topics covered in groups are student-driven as well as leader-directed and cover a broad spectrum, such as group/team building, collaborating with teachers, moral and character development, approaching ethical dilemmas, peer pressure, effective communication, gender and sexuality, expressing gratitude, forgiveness, drug and alcohol use, cyber safety, academic pressure, time management, health-related concerns, and self-advocacy.
The ninth-grade advisory program focuses on tools and skills students need as they begin their high school careers. Some topics include making and keeping friends, collaborating with teachers, understanding learning styles, social decision making, creating inclusive communities, expressing gratitude, and developing healthy perspective and balance. We address these ideas through activities, videos, stories, current events, and conversation.
Check out some of our favorite videos!
Building on their ninth-grade experience, in tenth-grade, the focus of advisory shifts to the value of tikkun olam, making the world a better place. Students learn about issues such as poverty, homelessness, political advocacy, and leadership as they prepare the sophomore chesed trip to Washington DC. Through this program, students come to understand the difference between being a bystander and an “upstander.”
In the fall of senior year, students meet weekly in small groups to prepare for the Lev v’Nefesh Senior Experience and plan for their post-Israel individualized experiences. We continue the advisory program, addressing topics and concerns specific to seniors. When students return from Israel, we continue to support them in their internships and WISE placements through group meetings and reflective activities.
Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) - a community resource in mental health, home health care, developmental disabilities and human services serving all people who live or work in Westchester
Rockland Jewish Family Service - a community resource in mental health, developmental disabilities and human services serving all people who live or work in Rockland
Jewish Family Service - the social service agency of the Jewish community in Eastern Fairfield County
Jewish Board of Family and Children Service (JBFCS) - offers social service and mental health programs to all New Yorkers
Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson (JFS) - services provided at JFS include information and referral, clinical services, employment services, elder care, afterschool programs, advocacy, emergency financial assistance, refugee resettlement and placement
FCD Prevention Works: A Global Non-Profit Substance Abuse Prevention Organization