Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe is going beyond classroom instruction to provide students with a wide variety of support services.

DODDS counselors provide children with support services based on several areas: academic development, career development and personal social development.

Many schools also have their own individual support programs, said Dr. Gretchen Ridgeway, DODDS-Europe coordinator for student support services, and parents should contact their school to learn what is offered locally.

All DODDS schools have special teams to help identify pupils needing additional academic or social development.

“The purpose of this team is to identify intervention services for students who have special academic or behavioral problems, but who don’t need to be referred to a special-education program,” Ridgeway said.

Once the teams determine what a child needs, a counselor can focus services to meet those needs. For example, they can refer pupils to peer tutoring or sessions with a school psychologist, among other options.

School administrators, Ridgeway said, handle disciplinary problems.

“We have conflict-resolution groups for students with behavioral problems,” she said. “The counselor doesn’t deal with disciplinary actions. They may counsel a student to help them change their behavior, but they’re not there as disciplinarians.”

For career development, all students receive individual guidance from DODDS counselors from the seventh to the 12th grades.

“The counselor sits down with each student and works through the student’s goals and interests, then plans out their academic program,” Ridgeway explained. “This gives the counselors a chance to go through the student’s records and identify any needs at that time.”

DODDS can also provide parents with help.

“Counselors have a lot of information on child and adolescent development,” she said. “We think it’s important for parents to understand the developmental phases of their own child.”

Ridgeway said that DODDS tries to ensure that a child has a balanced academic life.

“It’s a total process with the teachers, the family, the students and the counselors,” Ridgeway said. “The mental health of our students is very important. It’s a key factor in academic success.”

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