Starfish Story: Dowagiac Union Schools Counseling Department

Our school counselors are important members of the education team and school family. They work with teachers, administrators and families to help students with academic and career achievement, personal and social development, and so much more. Every day they strive to make a difference.

Our elementary counselors are Lisa Armijo and Deb Eggink. Lisa is a certified teacher and has been a school counselor for 13 years. Deb comes from a community mental health background and has been a school counselor for seven years. Lisa provides services for students at Justus Gage and Patrick Hamilton Elementary Schools and Deb provides services for students at Kincheloe and Sister Lakes Elementary. Both teach lessons in every classroom emphasizing social skills, problem solving, decision making and career awareness. They work with individual students, small groups, and families to help students develop skills and work through issues that may be preventing them from being successful at school.

Our middle school counselors are Kristin Dockerty and Jennifer Garrison.  Kristin is a certified teacher and has been a counselor for eight years. Jennifer is new to Dowagiac this year, and this is her second year as a school counselor. They work to assist students with the transition from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school.

This year they are using the “Start to Hello” program to promote inclusion and connectedness with all students. They also teach classroom lessons which focus on growth mindset, developing academic success skills, goal setting and planning for the future. Both work with individuals and small groups to help students with middle school issues including but not limited to peer relationships and peer pressure, decision making, and conflict resolution.

Our high school counselors are Randy Luthringer, Brandi Zoll and Counseling Intern Mark Howkins.  Randy is a former teacher and has been a school counselor for 18 years, Brandi Zoll was new to Dowagiac last year, and Mark Howkins is sharing his time between the social studies department and counseling department as he finishes his counseling degree at IUSB. The focus of the DUHS counseling department is academic achievement and post-secondary college and career planning. This includes assisting students with scheduling, graduation audits, filling out college applications and scholarships, as well as career planning.  The high school counselors also work with individual students and small groups to help students work through personal and social issues that interfere with school success as they prepare for their future beyond graduation.

In addition, all of the counselors serve on the district-wide crisis team to provide responsive services for students and staff in the event of a building or district-wide emergency or tragedy and work on district-wide projects.

I have had the pleasure of working with this department for many years and I am proud of the work they do on behalf of our students, families, and staff. 

Kara Cox

Pathfinders Alt Education Coordinator

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