Building the support network for our kids
Young people can be reluctant to approach a teacher or parent for help. That’s why Cape Fear Academy has two trained professional counselors on staff who provide social and emotional support for the students.
“A lot of what we do is try to build relationships with students in class, during lunch or over break so when there is an issue, they are more likely to come to us,” said Tobi Ragon, Cape Fear Academy Middle and Upper School counselor.
The Middle and Upper School students meet in small groups for “advisory” where eight to nine students talk about difficult issues with an adult faculty member every week. Some topics include online safety, bullying and conflict resolution. The Upper School students spend a month exploring career options based on their passions and academic strengths which leads up to a Career Fair featuring about 30 professionals from the community.
Next year, the Middle School students will meet with their advisory groups every day to interact with students they wouldn’t ordinarily meet and to build a strong relationship with an adult mentor.
“It’s not counseling in the traditional sense. It’s prevention,” Ragon said.
The counselors do not provide therapy, but they can refer a student and family to another agency if there is a serious mental health issue.
Lower School counselor Elizabeth Gibbs comes into the classroom to lead nine-week social skills units at each grade level. For the youngest students, she helps them learn how to manage their emotions and offers a yoga curriculum. She recognizes that at the elementary school age, children begin to socialize outside of their families and choose their own friends.
“Navigating through those social waters is part of the task of Lower School,” Gibbs said.
Additionally, Cape Fear Academy provides parent education classes with local and regional guest speakers. One recent presentation was by Susan Sutton, a counselor from Apex, who spoke on “how to create a positive cyber reputation.”
Both counselors encourage parents to be involved at Cape Fear Academy.
“The sense of family and sense of community here creates such a great atmosphere,” Ragon said.
Cape Fear Academy has been a leader in the educational community of southeastern North Carolina since 1967. Known for its academic excellence and outstanding college preparatory program, the pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade curriculum emphasizes hands-on learning across academic disciplines. For more information, visit www.capefearacademy.org or call (910) 791-0287.