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Take Five with the Northwest Middle School Counseling Team

09 February 2024

Ms. Elizabeth Martin and Ms. Allison Manasse work together to have a hugely positive impact on the students they serve.

Ms. Martin and Ms. Manasse smiling outside of Northwest Middle School

Take Five is a series that highlights some of the many members of the CPS community who are going above and beyond for our schools. If you know someone who is making a difference, nominate them to be featured here

It’s National School Counseling Week, and we’re thrilled to spotlight two of our amazing school counselors: Ms. Elizabeth Martin and Ms. Allison Manasse at Northwest Middle School. 

Ms. Martin leads the climate and culture side of their work and runs small groups targeting attendance, grades, and other wellness needs; Ms. Manasse leads the way when it comes to crisis intervention and behavioral health. Together, they form a counseling team that has a hugely positive impact on the students they serve.

“The work that Ms. Manasse and Ms. Martin do each day directly and effectively supports our middle school students and all of their unique needs,” said Northwest Principal Margaret Byrne. “I cannot thank them enough for their leadership, passion, and commitment. Our school and our kids are better because of them.”

Learn more about Ms. Manasse and Ms. Martin’s incredible work below!

Why did you want to become a school counselor?

Ms. Martin: I started my career in a different industry, and I realized I didn’t like it and wanted a change. I’ve always been drawn to education, so I started working at Prosser Career Academy — first as a long-term substitute, and then as a school scheduler. In my role as a school scheduler, I worked closely with the counseling team and I got to see their impact up-close. I’m so glad that the counseling team at Prosser encouraged me to apply to graduate school!

Ms. Manasse: I have always loved school and learning, and I grew up in a household with a strong mental health background. To me, school counseling is the perfect marriage of the two. I was also so impacted by the educators who saw and supported me when I was in school. Middle school can be such a complicated and messy time in children’s lives, and we are uniquely positioned to support them through it.

What do you love most about this work?

Ms. Martin: I love watching change happen and seeing a student put the pieces together for themselves. I also love the deep connections we are able to make with students, because they really put their trust in us.

Ms. Manasse: I love seeing students develop the skills to advocate for themselves and express themselves. The amount of growth that happens between sixth and eighth grades is huge, and it’s really exciting. I also love that schools remove all barriers to getting support; outside counselors might involve months-long waiting lists. In school, students can see us at any time with no barrier.

What do you hope your students learn from you?

Ms. Martin: You can change; you can start over. I would also love for them to learn how to let things go. 

Ms. Manasse: The importance of being empathetic, and how to find your resources. It’s not a sign of weakness to look for help. 

Can you describe each other’s strengths as a counselor?

Ms. Martin: Manasse is the planner and a deep thinker. She can take my very loose idea and turn it into a solid, concrete plan. Manasse is also incredibly knowledgeable about mental health, and I learn so much from her about therapeutic interventions. She’s a leader and the department chair for a reason. She can also bake!

Ms. Manasse: Liz has a lot of enthusiasm and outcome-focused energy for this work. The kids can read her positive energy, and she can reach the most hesitant children. You know that when you seek her out, it’s not going to be just a fluff conversation. She also has high expectations for how kids treat each other and themselves, and students respond to that.

It’s National School Counseling Week. Do you have a message for your fellow school counselors?

Ms. Martin: You are doing the work. Even when you feel like you’re just running around all day, don’t feel like you didn’t accomplish anything. Every time you reach a student, you are doing the work. The work is getting done.

Ms. Manasse: You're not alone in the work. Even if you’re not a part of a counseling team, there are always opportunities to collaborate, meet other counselors, and learn from each other. You are invaluable!

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