Meet the SSO!


“A donut does a lot,” said Amy Han, a school counselor with the SSO, alluding to the donut and cider celebration in late October as well as the other events the SSO hosts at Uni. “[These events] allow us to see students and students to see us so that if there is a greater need in the future, we are more than willing and wanting to talk and support in whatever ways we can,” Han says. 

The Student Services Office at Uni High is made up of Lisa Micele, the department head and college counselor. Kristi Deedrick and Amy Han are the school counselors. 

Keeley Hynes is the current psychology intern. Hynes works in partnership with the SSO, by hosting counseling sessions and consulting with teachers, service providers, and administration. She collects data on 504 plans, works on behavioral plans, and responds to crisis situations. She also conducts research outside of Uni.

The SSO generally focuses on three areas of the American School Counselor Association model: social and emotional health of individuals, academic counseling, and career planning. Micele also does college counseling. They meet with students individually who may need one on one counseling or support with stress. Additionally, they conduct semesterly meetings, provide resources to the University, and make sure that students feel comfortable. 

Over the course of the school year multiple school climate and social emotional assessment surveys are sent out to students by the administration. 

These give helpful information on “where students felt either a lack of connection to the SSO or where the need was,” explains Han. The SSO uses this information to help “plan for how to best serve student needs.”  

Depending on the grade level, students’ needs differ. “So, maybe older students need this kind of support, where younger students need this kind of support,” Han continues. 

The data collected informs the SSO on how to interact with students and what kind of programs they want to do. Starting in 2020, the first full year of remote learning, to the 2021 post-lockdown, several surveys were sent out to students. The SSO was trying to compile information on how students were doing during the pandemic as well as transitioning from remote learning. 

Han is part of the staff for the Student Faculty Advisory Committee. That helps them get a “pulse on each grade level, and what might be pressing.” 

The SSO also leads the Subbie Buddy program. Subbie year is foundational at Uni, whether being online or in person. “There is a transition for new students, whether they’re subbies or transfers,” Han said. Counselors make sure they “get acclimated with where things are in the building, [and] feeling comfortable with their classes.”

At the beginning of the year the SSO leads student support meetings for additional support through 504 plans or IEPs. There are check-ins with seniors by Micele, like gathering information about college applications. Juniors also prepare for senior year by taking the PSAT and standardized testing.

The SSO works closely with teachers, and receives information about different needs within what teachers see in their classes. 

Han said an example would be “if there’s a need for students to have more organizational skills, then we’ll go into classrooms and do like an organizational executive functioning group type activity or lessons.” The executive functioning in subbie classrooms is headed by Hynes.  

In the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, a survey was sent out to see what kind of groups students would be interested in having. The main requests were for a general support group, an LGBTQ+ support group, and an executive functioning group. The groups were successful, and had a good turnout. 

Second semester of that year, the SSO started a book club. Although there was interest, it ended up disbanding due to lack of commitment from students. Currently all groups are inactive, but may come back once Deedrick returns from maternity leave.  

Han also shares her thoughts on how the SSO plans to move forward. “Part of the school climate, I think, is having fun and just relating to one another,” Han explains. “Different events and different things that will promote just a lightheartedness in the school, whereas people always have something heavy on their minds.”

SSO events and activities also include tips that are left on lockers and candy grams where students can write positive notes to one another which are sent out with attached candy. Hot chocolate bars are another popular option, along with donuts, apple cider, lemonade, and popcorn. There is a wall in front of the SSO office that is seasonally decorated with tips on studying and improving mental health, and C.O.F.F.E.E. (Counselors Offering Fun Facts and Emotional Education) podcast installments. This year therapy dogs came to the building monthly until November.