Meet Your Counselors!

Andi Strong
MS/US Counselor
astrong@wsa.net

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Contact

astrong@wsa.net
(706) 731-5260 ext. 2347

Office Hours: 9:00AM-4:00PM
Office Days: Tues., Wed., Thurs.
Located in the 500 building

B.S., University of Georgia
M.Ed in School Counseling from the University of West Alabama. 

"Westminster truly is a special place made up of such amazing & diverse students, faculty, admin, and families that God created. My heart is to promote the mental & emotional wellness of every student here at Westminster. I hope to foster the social and emotional well-being of our students in order to facilitate success and personal growth. It is important to engage in the development of self-awareness, interpersonal skills, emotional regulation, and healthy boundaries. I hope to empower those I come in contact with and develop many professional & safe working relationships."

Caitlin Vinson
LS Counselor & Academic Support Coordinator
cvinson@wsa.net

Learn More

Contact

cvinson@wsa.net
(706) 731-5260 ext. 2204

Office Hours: 9:00AM-4:00PM
Office Days: Mon., Wed., Fri.
Located in Pamplin Hall 

B.S., Georgia College & State University
M.S., North Georgia College & State University
National Certified Counselor

"My passion is to see students grow by helping them identify and appreciate their strengths, acknowledge and overcome their weaknesses, and discover and embrace who they are while teaching them to become advocates for themselves. I am thrilled to be a part of the Lower School family and honored to play a role in starting a counseling program for the Westminster community."

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Counseling

 

A Note From The Counselor's Office

“Death, failure, betrayal, sickness, disappointment – they cannot take our joy, because they cannot take our Jesus”

I hope this finds all of you well and practicing all the safety and health recommendations that are in place. We have all experienced “a new normal” as of Monday, March 16, 2020. I find myself asking the question often, will life ever be the same again? Only God knows and that is where my comfort lies. He is still on the throne and He is still in control of all things that happen. That is also the only answer I find myself able to tell my sweet girls. I imagine many families are feeling anxious and on edge just like we are. Anxiety is not a sin; it is an emotion!!! For kids, this can be an especially scary, confusing, and overwhelming time. For teachers, in particular, and for parents, it’s important to provide social and emotional support to students during the most challenging times because it directly impacts their learning and how they view themselves in and navigate the world. I believe it’s important to develop and maintain a culture of caring—not only at school, but also at home. 

Keep calm.
These trying times can be very overwhelming and stressful for everyone, including kids. They pick up on everything from the adult conversations around them to the information they encounter on social media and from peers, so it’s important to be a good role model. Remember that panic only creates more panic. If you are afraid, it’s important that you work through your anxiety so that you do not further escalate your child’s worries. And remember, kids do not learn well when they are feeling stressed. I was reminded by Max Lucado that “The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others God is in control.”

Listen and be supportive. 
Being a good listener is key. Let them raise and share their own concerns. Reflect on and validate their feelings. It’s okay to say, “I’m feeling a little worried too, but we will take care of ourselves and get through this.” It’s important to meet children where they are and to answer their questions and to address their concerns. Help children communicate their feelings and remind them that it’s okay to feel sad, mad, afraid, or confused. Remember and remind them that the peace of God transcends all logic, scheming, and efforts to explain it.
 
Be honest and accurate.
Information is useful, but too much information can have the reverse effect. Talking about the facts that we know helps to relieve anxiety. And, most importantly, be honest and accurate but not gloomy. I keep reminding my family that we can not run the world or control it, but you can entrust it to God.
 
Emphasize safety.
Reassure kids that they are safe. Teachers, doctors, and scientists across the country are working on this and doing everything possible to protect us and keep us safe. And focus on all the other caring adults around them who are working to keep them safe.
 
Limit social media. 
Your kids might be scared of things they’ve heard or seen on television or social media. Monitor and limit social media and screen time to prevent children from becoming oversaturated with frightening messages. Instead, do fun things, if possible. YOU can be the air traffic controller of your mental airport. You occupy the control tower and can direct the mental traffic of the world.
 
Enjoy quality time together.
Above all, engage in enjoyable activities together. Some activities to do at home as a family include: reading books together, doing puzzles, building forts, going for walks, painting, playing with Legos. Simply put, just spend time together. While this is a scary time, it could very well be remembered as one of their best childhood memories – because it will be a MEMORY! God’s anxiety therapy includes a large, delightful dollop of gratitude. Gratitude keeps us focused on the present and not so much on the unseen. God uses everything to accomplish His will.

There are many good things to be found amongst all of this chaos. Here are a few ideas for positive thinking and self-care if the transition to this new temporary normal has been difficult or stressful.

-Feeling down? Take a moment to notice what might be triggering any negative thoughts or feelings. Maybe you have spent too much time watching the news, remained inside too long, haven't eaten or slept well. Time for a change of scenery! Switch to a book, say a prayer, listen to some upbeat music, have a healthy snack, or take a walk outside. 

-Take care of yourself physically. Intentionally take some slow, deep breaths. Try stretching or yoga, especially if you never have before! This is a great opportunity to try some new things. Click here for information on Deep Breathing Exercises.

-Take care of yourself mentally. Find some inspirational quotes, motivational words, and powerful truths in Scripture. Take some time to write these down on post-its or index cards and surround yourself with them. Place them in key places around your house like your bathroom mirror, your bedside table, or by your new remote learning setup. 

-Missing friends? Try going old school and send them some snail mail with an encouraging note or card! When we look around and think of how we can make someone else feel better, it blesses us as well!

Tips For Parents

About

Vision Statement:
We strive to empower all students to reach their maximum potential by using a comprehensive program that addresses academic, personal/social, and spiritual goals.  We strive to promote an environment to encourage personal assessment and growth, social responsibility, and spiritual growth.  We believe that every student can succeed through the collaborative efforts of school, home, and community. We strive to be an extension of the Christian home.

Beliefs:

  • All children are unique and should be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Every student can succeed.
  • Learning is a lifelong process.
  • Fostering a positive self-image is the collaborative effort of the school, home, and community which leads to being a responsible and productive member of society.
  • A comprehensive, developmental school counseling program is both a support service and an integral part of the total education experience.
  • A developmentally-appropriate school counseling program provides important benefits to individual students by addressing their spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and psychological needs.

Parents

 

Dear Parents,

As School Counselors, we strive to work with all students and encourage a safe school climate of trust and respect. We are able to meet with students in an individual or small group setting that involves short term, brief, and solution-focused counseling. Our goal is to help students who are struggling to make positive behavior choices. We hope to collaborate with parents, guardians, teachers, support staff, and administration all with the common purpose of doing what is in the best interest of the student. As counselors, we maintain the confidentiality of students and their families unless there is a need to know or safety concern. Additionally, we would like to provide the Westminster community with educational information about students’ social-emotional needs. While we do not provide long term individual counseling, we can provide referrals and help connect families with outside resources. Counselors do not assist in disciplinary action, tell teachers how to teach, or parents how to parent. However, we would love to come alongside you and be a part of your team to help your student navigate situations that may arise so that they may flourish. 

Sincerely,  

Andi Strong & Caitlin Vinson

 

Resources

We are dedicated to helping guide students and parents through a variety of situations. Please see the below resources for information on anxiety, vaping, bullying, and grieving. 

Stress/Anxiety Vaping Bullying/Cyberbullying
Grieving/Loss Mental Health Family & Divorce 

Parent Education

Parent Education was created to compile a variety of great parenting resources and tips to help overcome obstacles as children grow through different stages. Please see the listening and reading resources below. 

Parent Book Club

The Behavior Code by Jessica Minahan & Nancy Rappaport
Calm my Anxious Heart – Linda Dillow
Helping Your Anxious Child – 2nd Edition – Step by Step Guide for Parents
Helping Your Anxious Teen – by Sheila Achar Josephs
Sticky Faith – Dr. Kara Powell & Chap Clark
Plugged In Parenting – How to Raise Media Savvy Kids With Love, Not War by Bob Waliszewski
Right-Click: Parenting Your Teenager In A Digital Media World – By Art Bamford, Kara Powell, Brad Griffin
The DNA of Parent-Teen Relationships – By Gary Smalley and Greg Smalley
Boundaries With Teens – By Dr. John Townsend
Helping Children Survive Divorce- By Dr. Archibald Hart

Podcasts
Focus on the Family
Truth.Love.Parent.
Lets Parent on Purpose
Grace to You – Pastor John MacArthur
Harvest: Greg Laurie Audio
Pray the Word with David Platt
Quick To Listen – Morgan Lee & Mark Galli
Daily Hope with Rick Warren
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