School counselors promote culture of well-being

For Deana Williams, Tammee Sandle and Leandrie Gabriel—members of the award-winning school counseling team at Dr. Frederick Douglass Todd Sr. Middle School—empowering their community is always the priority. 

This can happen in different ways like providing guidance to students, hosting parent conferences, teaming up with their school’s social worker and other local partners, assisting test coordinators or supporting their administration team. 

“I always say we’re flexible,” Williams said. “Although this is a small campus, we have a lot of needs. We fill in the gaps.”

Each member of the counseling team is dedicated to a specific grade level, which they follow through the students’ transition to high school. Currently, Sandle works with sixth-grade students, Williams works with seventh-grade students and Gabriel works with eighth-grade students. 

The setup helps them get to know their students on a deeper level and show up where they are needed most. Sandle said some members of their community experience homelessness, so they work together to get and clean uniforms and ensure the students have the resources they need through two “Love Closets.” 

With one “Love Closet” in the counseling suite and another in a campus gym, students can access hygiene products ranging from underwear to soap and deodorant, as well as care bags with supplies and positive affirmations. 

“We stay up to date on the resources students may need on a daily basis,” Sandle said. “Those are my success stories, because I’ve had a lot of students who may have been homeless and who have needed them.”

Their passion, hard work and dedication enabled them to earn the 2021-2022 Dallas ISD Trailblazer Award as a “dynamic counseling team” for the effective implementation of their comprehensive school counseling team. Sandle said they are proud of the work they have done and continue to do to ensure their students’ academic, social and emotional health and well-being.

“As a counselor, you touch so many areas of school and education, and you can actually see that your words are impacting students’ lives,” Gabriel agreed. “You’re there for the good and the bad, counseling parents and students as well as teachers at times. It is a challenging job, but it’s rewarding, and we’re thankful to be recognized for who counselors are and what we do.”

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