The mission of the Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) Guidance and Counseling Department is to provide all students with the knowledge and skills to develop their academic, personal/social, and career competencies to prepare them for a seamless transition to post-secondary success.
In adherence with the mission statement, school counselors provide academic guidance, responsive services, individual and group counseling, and guidance for curriculum instruction.
Sara Garza is the director of the Guidance and Counseling Department for BISD.
“The counselor’s role is to work in collaboration with every department in the district that impacts a student’s education: bilingual education, career and technical education, fine arts, athletics, and after school enrichment programs to name a few,” Garza said.
With BISD offering an early college high school program, middle and high school counselors work throughout the year to promote the program and help enroll high school students in college courses.
Counselors fit these dual enrollment courses seamlessly into students’ graduation plans, making it easy for students to earn credit as they move through their regular high school courses.
College promotion begins in elementary school with counselors helping host university-themed activities and sporting university and college shirts on designated days throughout the year.
Additionally, campus counselors host regular parent meetings to present the curriculum and provide resources on college planning and student safety.
“While academic counseling is important to ensure all areas of academic needs are being addressed and met, Counselors provide emotional support counseling and crisis intervention when needed,” Garza said.
The guidance department coordinates with community agencies to provide informational interviews to showcase various services offered in the city for students and families.
These information sessions are conducted virtually and posted to the Guidance and Counseling Department’s website.
The guidance department also hosts monthly information sessions on mental health.
“Topics range from healthy coping, anxiety, depression, [and] holiday stress,” Garza said.
BISD is proud to offer extended day counseling services for students and employees for the third year at no cost.
“Since the fall of 2021, the department has received and responded to over 650 referrals for personal counseling,” Garza said.
BISD also participates in the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) program.
TCHATT partners with the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine to provide no-cost therapy and counseling services from licensed mental health providers. Today, every BISD campus is equipped to provide TCHATT services to students.
The district also has special counseling teams that support students during a crisis or loss. These teams provide support and comfort to students coping with the loss of a classmate, teacher, or staff member.
The BISD guidance department works proactively to empower students to make wise decisions regarding their safety around others and in relationships.
“We teach our elementary students to listen to and develop their instincts for personal safety. Students are taught from elementary to speak up and find help from a safe and trusted adult,” Garcia said.
For more information on the BISD Guidance and Counseling department, visit bisd.us/departments/a-i/guidance-counseling.