Empowering Global Lee McShan Elementary’s Learners: A Counselor’s Journey from Kindergarten to College

Joseph Medaris, principal at Lee McShan Jr Elementary School, writes about the work his school’s counselor is doing to create opportunities for students in this special submission for The Beat.

In Dallas ISD’s Lee McShan Jr. Elementary—one of the unique schools with a diverse community—there exists a dedicated school counselor whose mission goes beyond the conventional boundaries of education. Maria Araceli Slette, a passionate advocate for empowering young minds, takes on the extraordinary task of guiding students from different corners of the world, helping them navigate the path from kindergarten to fifth grade, and ultimately, preparing them for college and career success starting at elementary school.

Slette believes that the journey to college and career readiness begins in the early years of education. She works tirelessly to create a nurturing environment where students, regardless of their cultural backgrounds, feel valued and encouraged to explore their potential. 

Through interactive guidance lessons, engaging activities and one-on-one counseling sessions, she instills confidence, resilience and a love for learning in the young students. Of course, this journey takes the help of each of the teachers and team members of Lee McShan Jr. Elementary. Without the help and support of each of them, this journey will be impossible, because it also starts in their classroom with the teachers and with the support employees.

Highlights of Slette’s emphasis on college and career readiness include organizing field trips to colleges/universities and career days for the entire school. The recent field trip to Richland Community College exposed students to the vibrant atmosphere of higher education institutions.  Through campus tours, interactive sessions with the professors and conversations with some college students, the Mighty Mustang fifth grade students were given an opportunity to dream big. Slette demystifies the college experience, making it accessible and tangible for fifth graders.

Slette’s unwavering dedication to her students illuminates the path from kindergarten to college. By fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment, addressing challenges, and instilling essential life skills, she prepares students not just for higher education, but for life’s myriad opportunities. As these young minds graduate from her care, they carry with them the knowledge, confidence, and resilience to shape their future where possibilities are limitless and dreams are within reach.

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