Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am writing to you today to share a significant change in the structure and operations of the Guidance and Counseling Department which will improve our service to your sons at Fordham Prep.

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, the department will move forward renamed as the Counseling Department. It will be restructured as two distinct programs staffed by experienced professionals in each area: School Counseling and College Counseling.

Our department has a long history in providing a comprehensive, four-year program that supports the Catholic, Jesuit mission of our school. In the spirit of cura personalis (the whole care of the individual person), the focus of our program is on academic success for every student.  Our dedicated counselors support your sons through a variety of targeted services and activities in three primary areas of counseling: academic, personal/social, and college/career.

This model has served us well over many decades. In the spirit of Ignatian discernment, I entered my first year as Principal by continuing a conversation with our counselors about our overall program and current structure.

Over the past several months, we engaged in a review process to assess whether there are more effective ways of serving your sons. This review was done in light of the growing need to support both the emotional and social needs of our students through personal counseling, as well as the increased demands of college counseling expected of a top-tier college preparatory school in the Catholic and Jesuit tradition.

This review process included internal discussions among counselors and administrators, external surveys of guidance and counseling models at other high schools (Jesuit, Catholic, independent, public), and conversations with our colleagues in Jesuit high schools across the U.S. It was a very thorough effort that studied comparative data on staffing, department structures and best practices. I am sincerely grateful to all our counselors for entering this process with an open mind to potential change in our way of proceeding at Fordham Prep.

After considering two recommended models from our Guidance and Counseling Department, I would like to share my decision and the details of this change as described below.

School Counseling Program:  Five (5) full-time School Counselors will be responsible for the academic, personal, social and emotional needs of all students. The restructuring will allow School Counselors to follow their students from freshman year through senior year for consistency of care. School Counselors will provide oversight of the course selection process for freshmen and sophomores. They will also be responsible for grade level assemblies and evening programs for students and parents as related to personal, social, and mental health topics. School Counselors will also offer student support groups in conjunction with the resources of our clinicians, the School Psychologist and School Social Worker.

College Counseling Program:  Three (3) full-time College Counselors will be responsible for the college search and application process for all students and their families. The restructuring will allow College Counselors to follow their students from junior through senior year for consistency as well. College Counselors will provide oversight for the course selection process for juniors. They will conduct all guidance classes for juniors in the second semester and for seniors in the first semester, as well as lower level college-related assemblies. College Counselors will hold evening programs with students and parents focusing on the college process. They will also write letters of recommendation for students as part of the college application process. By allowing our College Counselors to focus specifically on the college application and transition process, they will have additional time and resources to further develop professional skills related to college counseling, and to continue to cultivate relationships with the most selective colleges and universities in the nation. This will enhance their ability to promote Fordham Prep's reputation of academic excellence.

Clinical Staff and Administrative Support:  In the past year, Fordham Prep has committed more resources to clinical support for our students, with the addition of a School Psychologist alongside our School Social Worker. Both positions will remain in place to best provide clinical services to students and their families. Our clinicians are available to assist students who may already receive mental health treatment and communicate with their parents. Their primary role is to refer students and their parents to outside clinicians when they demonstrate a need for such support. The department will also maintain its full-time Administrative Assistant.

In the coming months, the administration will continue to work with the Guidance and Counseling Department to implement the changes to our program. I believe that our new way of proceeding will remain a comprehensive model that continues the holistic care of your sons that has been a hallmark of Fordham Prep and of Jesuit education for many years.

We remain committed to the academic, personal, social and emotional care of your sons. Our School Counselors will focus on these areas of student life and wellness, walking with your son on his four-year journey through the Prep. Our clinicians will assist them as needed.

We are committed as well to helping your sons navigate the intricacies of the college search and college application process with the goal of finding a college or university that is the best fit for each senior. Our College Counselors will now provide dedicated focus to this important and integral part of the Fordham Prep experience. Ms. Maura Brennan, Mrs. Erica Keough and Mr. Thomas O’Sullivan '98 will serve as our College Counselors, bringing a combined professional experience of more than 50 years in the field, 31 of which have been spent at the Prep.

Once again, I wish to express my gratitude to our Guidance and Counseling Department for their excellent work on behalf of our students. Thank you especially to Mrs. Maureen Martinez, Director of Guidance and Counseling, and Ms. Maura Brennan, Director of College Counseling, for leading this effort and for their ongoing leadership of our new, two-program model in the Counseling Department.

It is my hope that our renewed efforts in focusing more explicitly in the two areas of School Counseling and College Counseling will assist the Prep community in serving your sons in the best way possible—to form them into young men of competence, conscience, compassion and commitment. Know of my continued prayers for your families.  AMDG!

Joseph Petriello, PhD '98

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