School Counseling Overview

A comprehensive school counseling program is all about prevention.  We are here to help serve the needs of all students, including crises, but overall we strive to provide well-planned, research-based programs that are intentional rather than, “Random Acts of Guidance” as National School Counselor Trish Hatch puts it.

School Counselors provide services in the areas of academic, career, and personal/social development.  We strive to impact learning by improving behavior and attendance.  Some of the ways we reach students is by going into classrooms and teaching lessons with the teachers; working with small groups of students around a common issue; and working with students individually.  We also can serve as consultants for classroom teachers around chronic behavior issues as well as provide leadership in developing and maintaining school-wide programs such as Positive Behavior Instructional Support.

There are many hats that a School Counselor can wear.  For more information, check out the National Model here:

Special Features of the Force Counseling Program

Why Try, Bully Proofing, Anger Management, Trauma, and Grief and Loss are a few of the types of groups provided for those who need it.

Attendance Contests:
Check out our Attendance bulletin board in the main lobby of the school!  It shows who has the best attendance and how close we are to meeting our goal of 97%. Student with perfect attendance get a certificate each month to take home.

Positive Behavior Instructional Support:
Otherwise known as PBIS, Positive Behavior Instructional Support is a school-wide program designed to help teachers and staff focus on the positive things that students are doing.  Students get rewarded when they exhibit the elements of FORCE-Focus, Organization, Respect, Community, Effort and Empathy.  We model for the students what we are looking for and continuously accentuate the positive in our classrooms and throughout the school building.  This shows students what our expectations are and encourages everyone to live up to them in a positive way.

In the same way that we have attendance contests, we also have prizes for those students who demonstrate exemplary behavior.  They get a chance at a weekly drawing as well as recognition in the classroom. Every quarter, we have an assembly where we remind students of what it means to be a FORCE student and we give certificates for excellence in behavior and academics.

Fifth-Grade Transitions
Middle school is a big transition for most students.  To help with the move, the Force Counseling Department provides a classroom guidance lesson to help students learn what to expect in middle school and how to prepare.  We talk about helpful tips and we even take some time to practice opening up locks so they will be more prepared when they are assigned their own lockers the following year.

Bully-Proofing Classroom Lessons
Another way that the Counseling Department supports Force Elementary is by going into classrooms and working with the teachers to provide information and lessons to students regarding bullying and how to positively impact it.  Students learn specific skills and vocabulary to help them deal with bullying situations and then practice with role-plays to solidify the learning.

School Counseling Program Advisory Committee
In order to better serve the Force community, it is important for others to have a voice in what we do as a Counseling Department.  Teachers, students, administration, staff, parents, and community members come together on a quarterly basis to discuss the goals and objectives of the counseling program and help move the program forward year after year.

Guidance and Counseling Goals and Objectives
The following are goals for the 2014-15 School Year:


  • Get close to our goal of 97% attendance for the year!
  • Share information on attendance protocols and procedures with all stake holders.
  • Come together as staff and families to overcome obstacles that keep our kids from being here everyday.


  • Consult with teachers to provide observational data and collaborate on implementing behavior plans and interventions as needed.
  • Work with the PBIS team to coninue implementing system components including:
  • Creating and maintaining a common and positive approach to discipline.
  • Provide monthly  professional development opportunities to staff including No Nonsense Nurturing and Restorative Approaches.

Social/Emotional Counseling

  • Provide Bully Proofing lessons in all classrooms.
  • Provide Why Try small group counseling as needed.
  • Be available for one on one and crisis counseling as needed.
  • Provide mediation based on the Restorative Approaches model as needed.

Accountability Data
Based on feedback from a recent teacher survey (January 2012), here’s what teachers have to say about the Counseling Program:

  • 81.8% of teachers feel that the counseling program is useful and 100% feel that it is at least somewhat useful.
  • 100% of teachers think the emotional needs of students in the most important priority for the Counseling Department to focus on; 90% chose social needs of students to be the next most important priority; and 66.7% chose behavior in the classroom as the next most important priority after that.

Counseling Department Wish List
Many families have asked for assistance with getting new clothing, gifts and food for holiday times, and school supplies.  There are many who can also use help with rental assistance, diapers, food, and transportation.  Below is a basic list of some items that we would love to take in our department for use with families and/or in the counseling office directly:

  1. Bus passes or tokens
  2. Gift cards for places like grocery stores, Target, Walmart, K-Mart, etc.
  3. New children’s clothing and shoes, including socks and underwear
  4. Large or small “squish” stress balls
  5. Games such as “Connect Four” and “Go Fish”
  6. Legos/blocks
  7. Stuffed animals

If you have any of these items, please drop them off at our office or call Jenny at (720) 424-7435.

Important Dates


Two weeks before school up to first day of school

A time for families to connect with office staff and give paperwork and get assigned to a classroom.

Staff Orientation

First several days of school before students arrive

A time for all staff new and returning to get trained on any new systems and learn all needed information to start the year.

Watermelon Social

First day of school

Meet and Greet for teachers and families.

Back-to-School Night

Second week of school

More formal time for families to learn about the school.

Back-to-School Events

First month of school

We often get community help from Operation School Bell and other resources to give families clothes and school supplies at the beginning of the year.

Thanksgiving Events


We sometimes get community help for giving away turkeys and holiday meals to families.

Christmas Events


We often get community support for giving away food, holiday meals, and gifts for families.  The gifts have come in the form of Secret Santa between our staff and some of the families.

College Field Trip


Fifth grade students and their teachers go to visit a college campus and learn about higher education.

End-of-Year BBQ


Community BBQ after school to end the year on a nice note and build community.

For Parents
If you are in need of assistance with food, clothing, or have a crisis situation and need help finding a safe place to go, please contact us.  We are here to  help you.  Here are a few helpful links:

How to Get Involved as a Parent at Force:

  • Be part of the PAC committee
  • Volunteer to help sell uniforms
  • Help distribute food to families during the holidays
  • Help organize, set-up, and/or clean up for one of our upcoming community events

Parenting Education
Below are some links that you, as parents, might find helpful:

School and DPS Resources

Community Partners

Agency Name

What they Do

Contact Information

The Zara Project

Gives a ton of food to many families for the 2 weeks of Winter Break.

Berna Smith (

Sam Sandos

Gives one holiday meal to a number of families for Christmas.

Patrick Sandos ‎(


Operation School Bell Assistance League of Denver

Gives clothing or gift cards and sometimes school supplies to families at beginning of year.

Sue Bruner 303-888-8568

G.R.E.A.T. Program

Teaches anti-bullying program to 4th and 5th graders.

Paul Callanan, CRID Program Manager

Deborah Garcia-Sandoval

Denver Juvenile Probation Officer

(720) 913-4284

Judi’s House

Come to school and run grief counseling groups using a 10-week research-based curriculum.

1741 Gaylord St., Denver, 80206; (720) 941-0331.  Megan McLean (

Denver Center for Crime Victims

Come to school and provide individual and group counseling for students who have experienced trauma related to a crime.

Ashley Brown and Mario Flowers (303) 894-8000 ( or (

Clothes to Kids

Gives away clothes to families.

2890 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO (720) 379-4630

Beacons Boys and Girls Club

After school program at our school.  Provides tons of resources to families and kids throughout the year.

Annie Vassallo, Director of Beacons at Force


(720) 424-7412

Mental Health Center of Denver

Provides community mental health to children and families.

(303) 504-7900=Intake.  Parent must speak directly to operator but you can make the call with them.  Call at exactly 8:00 AM and expect to wait on hold for about 20 minutes.

Mi Casa

Provides wrap-around services for Spanish-speaking community.

360 Acoma St., Denver

(303) 539-5597

Second Wind Fund

Suicide Prevention Services, free counseling to those who qualify.  Any student at risk of suicide who is uninsured and struggling financially usually qualifies for free counseling services.

JoAnn Furay (

(303)988-2645 is the referral line.  You must call the referral line and then fill out a form.  From there, they give you a referral number and a list of providers for the client.

Denver Kids, Inc.

Provides educational counseling, mentoring and support for kids starting in 3rd grade and continuing until they graduate high school.

1860 Lincoln St. 9th Floor

Denver, CO 80203

(720) 423-2470

Darla Harrah

(720) 424-0226

Cheri Travis, MAEd, CAC II, LPC Soul Play Therapy

Licensed counselor in Denver that accepts Medicaid and has openings.  Was recommended by a Force family.

662 Grant St., Denver

(303) 638-9911

University of Denver

Provides tours and campus visits for our students.

Adrienne Martinez, MSW

Center for Multicultural Excellence

University of Denver

1981 South University Blvd.

Denver, CO 80208


University of Colorado Denver

Provides tours and campus visits for our students.

Tara DeLaFuente

University of Colorado Denver

Office of Admissions

Campus Box 167 PO Box 173364

Denver, CO 80217

(303) 352-3921

Reading Partners

Provides reading tutoring for our students in-house.

 (720) 424-7415

Alpine Connection Counseling

Provides excellent resources and counseling for cutting and self-injury.

Christian T. Hill, MA

(719) 233-8336

1720 Jet Stream Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80921

Denver Department of Human Services

Many services, but for abuse reporting hotline in particular.

(720) 944-3000.  Be ready with student information when you call.

DPS Homeless Liaisons

Help with getting resources and information to our homeless families.

Anna Theisen (720) 423-8230 1330 Fox St. 3rd Floor North

Denver, CO 80204

DPS Medicaid Liaisons

Helps you and families get needed information regarding health care.

(720) 423-8938

1330 Fox St. 2nd Floor

Denver, CO 80204

Another helpful related resource:

Rashonda L. Gordon

Practice Manager

Healthy Communities (303) 602-6768

DDHS Foster Care Services

We have a lot of families made up of kinfolk caring for the students rather than bio mom and dad.  This is a good resource for questions they might have.

Jason Lester

(720) 944-4000

Toys for Tots

Holiday gifts for children.

There are also other locations and our staff generously donates great gifts for students as “Secret Santas”.

David A. Karl, MAEd, MA, LPC

Another counselor in the Denver area who accepts Medicaid and is taking new clients.  He also speaks Spanish.

925 S. Niagara St. Ste320

Denver, CO 80224

(720) 771-9601

Hey, kids!  Check out the links below for some fun and educational things to do!

Counseling Lessons by Grade Level








Feelings Boundaries Control Discipline Bully-Proofing Leadership Attendance
Friendship friendship Fairness Relaxation Letting go Friendship College
Self-Esteem Hygiene Respect Respect Listening Self Esteem Transitions

Here are some fun ideas for teachers!