Elizabeth Wittebort

Anderson School District One
Williamston, South Carolina
Elizabeth A. Wittebort, M.Ed., NBCC, NCC, LPC, Student Support Services Coordinator

“Together We Can”

As counselors, our whole purpose is to help our students find their strengths, give them a sense of purpose and determination, lift their spirits and self-esteem, and continue to spread positivity and optimism so they can strive to be the best that they can be.   This year was no different amongst COVID-19. Our entire district counseling team worked together to focus on the social and emotional health of our staff, students, and families to bring about a sense of strength and togetherness.

We often hear that we become what we believe ourselves to be. So what thoughts and feelings did COVID-19 bring to our community – thoughts of depression, loneliness, anxiety? We knew that this type of thinking would not create a safe and healthy climate that was best for our teachers or students. So our team decided to change this mindset by creating a district-wide mantra that would set the foundation for the school year -“Together We Can”. Knowing that this year was going to be like no other with changes in safety protocol, the use of desk shields and face masks, daily temperature taking, hybrid schedules, and virtual instruction, we needed to create a cohesive unit with the belief that we could conquer any challenges and achieve any goals. “Together We Can” – a message so plain and simple but yet has the power to create change much like a coach who motivates his team for that last minute touchdown or the inspiring, soul-searching words preached by a minister to his congregation to rekindle their hope. We become what we believe ourselves to be.

We knew that for any learning to take place in our schools this year, we needed to make the safety and well-being of our staff and students a priority. Each of our school counselors created a calm room to help teachers escape any overwhelming feelings or frustrations as they faced new ways of teaching. A space with dim lighting, soft tranquil music, the calming scent of lavender, a bowl of sweet dark chocolates, and hot brewing Chai tea allowed them a moment to self-reflect and recharge. To support our students, our school counselors created social-emotional learning lessons that focused around the five competencies of the CASEL framework including: self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, social awareness, and responsible decision making. Each of these lessons were thoroughly created to inspire, motivate, and teach our students that no matter what obstacles they faced, on any given day, they had the ability to choose how to respond and react to those obstacles. This year, like no other, our teachers, students, and staff will become stronger and more determined than ever because we know that we become what we believe and we believe that “Together We Can”!