After the Sandy Hook tragedy, Ridgefield High School was shook to its core. Because the schools are located just 10 minutes apart, Ridgefield high had many connections with Newtown. Ridgefield's Kids In Crisis TeenTalk counselor stepped up to help students and faculty cope with the situation.
"In this particular case, my counselor James was greta about getting me outside resources to support us. When you're in a full, school-wide tragedy, you need more than the support you just have in the building. He played a really vital role in getting the support to help us through it," said Stacey Gross, the Ridgefield High School principal.
The second annual TeenTalk Summit brought educators, appointed officials, social workers and clinicians together to talk about the importance of TeenTalk counselors in schools. This program offers student outreach counselors to Fairfield County schools.
"We are licensed clinicians and we are there to serve the students. Whatever the student needs is what we do. The aded component is we want to work with families. We want to draw them in, we want parents to know. I usually try to get the teenagers permission to call and introduce myself as an outside district employee who has recently met their child, and see if I can get them to meet with me as well," said Mariangela Carr, the TeenTalk counselor at Brien McMahon High School.
In Greenwich, there has been a TeenTalk counselor at Western Middle school for about 8 years, and Central Middle School is getting one this year. Greenwich Police Chief Jim Heavey hopes to one day add a resource officer for these schools. The officer and the counselor would work together as outside resources to keep kids safe, both mentally and physically.
"It's part of a team, whether it's coordinating with the parents, with the school, the social worker, psychologist. We find that team effort is really more successful than what we are doing outside the school and what they are doing inside the school. When we work together, it's just so much better for the child," said Heavey.
Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei said he would like to bring a TeenTalk counselor into Eastern Middle School, and even the High School in the future.