In light of concerning trends among Kaiser students, the position of Outreach Counselor, once long left vacant, has been filled.
This position was created to provide specialized counseling services through facilitation with the grade-level counselors. At one point in time, the position was filled, but due to funding, it was later terminated, the posi-
tion’s reinstatement consistently being a topic of discussion. Due to a recent rise in the number of students with substantial amounts of unexcused absences and tardies, in the number of students going in for counseling help, and in the disparity between high and low test scores, the school began to seriously consider reinstatement. “The scary part was when more students are in need of counseling services, and that’s what we’re here for. But when that need becomes overwhelming for our staff, we need to…figure out what else we can do. … That was the impetus. … For [students] to succeed, we need somebody who can help keep track and counsel them through,” Princi-
pal Justin Mew said.
Talks for the 2018-2019 school year staffing, including the purchase of the additional position for Kaiser’s counseling department, began in September of last year. The finalized plan was submitted to the Department of Ed-
ucation in December. As purchasing a position requires a considerable amount of money, a close examination of the total school budget was conducted by the school administration. The process included meetings with faculty and the School Community Council (SCC) to provide a rationale for hiring an Outreach Counselor. The rationale came from Kaiser’s counseling department as well as a cadre of faculty known collectively as the Multi-Tiered Student Support (MTSS), who saw a necessity for additional support for students.
After Superintendent Christina Kishimoto approved the position, the school hired Kayla Nakasone, a Master’s student in Counseling Psychology at Chaminade University, as Kaiser’s new Outreach Counselor. Nakasone feels grateful to have received the position, particularly because she understands firsthand how valuable having a trusted adult can be. “When I was in high school, having those trusted adults was a huge part of making the experi-
ence awesome for me,” Nakasone said. “Just being able to give back and make a difference in that way is something important to me.” Nakasone believes that with the growing prevalence of technology and social media in our world, an Outreach Counselor is necessary to understand what students are facing and how to help them.
As of now, according to Mew, the position of Outreach Counselor is “here to stay and is meant to be long-term.” The administration has made plans to evaluate the position along the way based on student needs. “Students are
our first priority. Students should always be aware that they can access supports, they don’t have to ‘suck it up.’ … there are counselors and staff out there who are more than willing to help you,” Mew said. Brandon Kawazoe, head of the counseling department, added, “[We are] thankful for the administration, the faculty and staff for their understanding during this transition. We’re trying to figure out the best way to integrate this position into what we do, and [we] look forward to utilizing this position to the best of the counseling department’s ability.”
Chelsea Chang / Staff Writer