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While most parents think of their child’s teacher when they are preparing thank-you notes and holiday cards, there are many other professional staff at a school that are working to help educate the children there. Many of these staff don’t have classrooms and may not have much interaction with parents outside of IEP meetings or special events. Despite being overlooked, these important members of your child’s education team are often just as critical to their success as the classroom teacher.

The Vice Principal

School administration is, of course, a very important part of any education team. Principals and vice principals handle the organization of the school and ensure that teachers have the resources and space they need to do their jobs. The vice principal is often the overlooked counterpart to the school’s principal.

A vice principal is often the administrator that works more closely with students, especially those with behavior problems. Getting sent to the principal’s office today usually means that you are meeting with the vice principal. This helps alleviate some of the duties of the principal, whose primary job it is to manage the school, not deal with students. In this capacity, vice principals may have an important direct impact on a student’s success and performance at school.

Guidance Counselors

School counselors are another behind-the-scenes professional that can have big impacts on students. Like professional counselors outside of school, school counselors, who have studied guidance counseling graduate programs, may provide social and emotional support for students and some limited therapy to help them with behavior and social problems. Social learning in schools is often just as important as academic learning, and when that road gets bumpy, school counselors are often the ones providing important support to students. Many counselors also provide enrichment lessons to classes of students where they may work on social and emotional management skills that a regular classroom teacher is not necessarily trained to provide.

If that’s not enough, counselors are also the professionals who provide long-term planning and educational support to students as they move through the school system. A guidance counselor may help students choose classes and electives or manage their schedules. Older students begin to take on the responsibility for choosing how their education progresses, and the counselor serves as an important guide in this process. This becomes extremely important for high school students who may need help with college readiness, filling out applications and other skills that will get them ready for graduation.

School Resource Officers

A school resource officer is a law enforcement professional that is paired directly with a school. These professionals provide security and safety for the school environment, and they may also help provide important education to the students there.

While some students and teachers may be wary of having a cop on campus, school resources officers provide a very important service to schools and teachers. Beyond the obvious of just keeping the school safe and dealing with possible outside threats, school resource officers are also called upon to provide specific and important education to students. It is often the school resource officer that provides students with insight into law enforcement and the duties of cops. They may also educate older students about the consequences for crimes and activities that many teenagers may brush off as not that big a deal. In an age where there is incredible tension between police and the society they are sworn to protect, it can be very beneficial for students to see and feel safe around a police officer they trust to protect and help them at school.

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of important school staff your child may interact with on weekly basis, it may help to expand your insight of the team of professionals that work to make our schools the safe and productive learning environments they are supposed to be.