Leaders in Learning: National School Counseling Week and mitigating impacts of pandemic

Originally aired on KBOI-TV – February 4, 2020

It’s National School Counseling week, and we know school counselors are key to wellbeing and academic success for students.

But the pandemic is causing an uphill battle.

In this weeks Leaders in Learning we’re introduced to one local counselor who is bridging the gap.

“Students come to us for a reason, and that reason can vary,” Lecertua explains.

Jessica Lecertua is the Counselor Administrator at Idaho Virtual Academy and president of the Idaho School Counselors Association.

She tells me that helping her students achieve academic success, plan a career and maintain emotional wellbeing is one of her greatest joys.

And with it, comes a deeper understanding of her students.

“Sometimes students come to us because they really struggle with anxiety, social anxiety,” Lecertua explains. “And so they seek out an online option for kind of the comfort that an online option provides and but it does seem like with the pandemic and we’ve seen a growth in students with a multitude of backgrounds with their own stories.”

But she tells me the one thing she is seeing more of – anxiety.

“This year it does seem like anxiety is still a big struggle for many of our students,” Lecertua explains.

She tells me he increase came over the past year.

“You have to wonder how much of that anxiety is impacted by the isolation they might be feeling at home or the stressors that are experienced within the home, job loss, financial stressors,” Lecertua explains. “Just the fact that you are living in a pandemic, you know you do wonder, and I wonder as a counselor the impact this is going to have on all of us.”

She says the impacts are direct and need to be watched for.

“We see some of that play out with our students, in the grades that they receive in their test scores, it can come through in a variety of ways,” Lecertua says.

Another impact – depression but also self confidence.

“You do wonder how much the online environment, social media specifically the impact that has on these young lives and how that plays into their feelings of confidence,” Lecertua explains. “It can be hard to reach these kids and know that they are struggling,”

Lecertua says if you notice your student is struggling, talk to them, and reach out to their school counselor.

“You have to pay attention to behavioral clues and pay attention to those little hints and act on them,” Lecertua explains.

To learn more about Idaho Virtual Academy, visit idva.k12.com

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