School counselor goes the extra mile to increase morale

LUMBERTON, NC – Adrian Hammonds feels blessed to walk the hallways of Lumberton High School every day despite the school counselor knowing that what is going on in the world weighs heavily on his students’ hearts.

“It is a very difficult problem to take something that turns out to be so common but still be able to tell the kids that it is an emergency situation,” said Hammonds.

What you need to know

Our nation continues to mourn the four students who were killed Tuesday in a Michigan high school after a 15-year-old opened fire on campus

This is the deadliest school shootout in the US since May 2018

There were 29 school shootings this year, according to Education Week. Two were in high schools in North Carolina

When there is news of a school shooting, Hammonds and other school counselors are proactive.

“We really like to strive to have great relationships with our students. When they are comfortable with us we feel like we can come in there and talk to them a little bit about what’s going on in the country, what happened in the past, the tragedy that happened, “said he.

A big part of preparing is knowing what signs to look out for.

“A drastic change in a neighbor or a friend. Let’s say a student has normal behavior, but he comes that day and is extremely angry. You come in and don’t want to talk to anyone.” Hammonds said.

Students and teachers know they’re on the front lines, but finding balance is crucial, says Hammonds.

“We also need to talk about how great the basketball game was last night,” he said. “And how we won the game and how we will make ugly Christmas sweaters tomorrow and wear your Santa hat and what will be for lunch today.”

The hope is that someone will be in Hammond’s office when they need help. Behind closed doors, parents can be eyes and ears.

“Maybe they’re not doing sports like they were before, maybe they’re not playing video games, maybe they’re acting angry,” said Hammonds.

Despite all interventions and resources, someone can slip through the cracks.

“We just can’t stop. We just can’t stop. We can keep trying to build these relationships, ”he said.

After 13 years of loving every minute of his job, the last thing Hammonds believes in is giving up.

“We want you to know that you are very important to us in the school system, we are very well prepared and here for you,” said Hammonds.

Robeson County continues to host family engagement events, where the system engages outside professionals to share educational information about mental health with parents.

The county also has a monthly Mental Health Mine newsletter that provides information about social and emotional classroom learning and training for all support staff.

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