As the only counselor at Ánimo Charter Westside Middle School, Mariela Vidaurrazaga (MA ’07) is unable to meet individually with every student. “My focus tends to be on the ones who are in crisis, as well as making sure that our eighth-grade students are on track to graduate,” Vidaurrazaga explains. “But adolescence can be a challenging time, and I know there are other students who could benefit from extra support.”
Vidaurrazaga’s experience is not unlike that of most school counselors. But this year, Ánimo Westside was able to offer a new resource to 10 sixth- and seventh-graders — seven weeks of one-on-one counseling provided by students in the LMU School of Education Counseling Program through SUCCESS Coaching, a research-based intervention founded and led by Sheri Atwater, professor and director of the LMU SOE Counseling Program. The enrichment program is now offered through partnerships at three schools: Ánimo Charter Westside Middle School, St. Anastasia Catholic School and WISH Charter Elementary School. A fourth school is expected to be added this fall.