Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability. Through the process of evaluation of the individual student counseling is a piece of the support that some students will receive. Our school based counseling program in St. Charles Parish works with these students.
Susan Fendlason, MSW, LCSW-BACS has been with Catholic Charities for 17 years. As director, administrator and a counselor for our School Based Counseling Program she along with 3 other counselors serve 17 St. Charles Parish Schools. Susan’s experience throughout her career has primarily been working with children, which feels right to her. Growing up in Bogalusa, Susan’s mother was a school social worker. Although she moved to Texas for college and then worked in New Mexico, Susan came back to New Orleans where she graduated with her Masters degree from Tulane University.
When asked how does a counselor handle a student that expresses feelings of depression and possibly not wanting to live, Susan shared “I would say that it is in learning the reasons why a child wants to die are the reasons a child wants to live and then helping them connect to those things again.” Susan will often work with students throughout their grammar school years and feels a deep connection to the health and well-being of her students.
In this new school year, our students are facing many of the same challenges that we as adults face. Counseling programs are an important and integral part of improving the mental health of our children. Catholic Charities is grateful for our school based counselors for all they do to improve our community by being a part of the success of these children.