In the stacks of blue lockers at Central Elementary School in Seagoville, one stands out. Miss Williams’ locker is decorated in white tape and burlap ribbon. The vent is a deposit slip for notes from students.
“This one is a friend that is a big problem,” Williams said, reading the notes.
“There is something about class that makes her cry,” read another. “He needs help with a family issue,” she said. “It’s their mental well being that I’m really impacting here.”
Williams is a first-year school counselor at Central Elementary, part of the Dallas Independent School District. She used to be a teacher in DISD.
“I wanted to impact lives,” Williams said. “I knew that this would be the job for me to be able to do that.”
Williams said her system eliminates the need for students to ask permission to see the counselor, and takes some of the stigma out of asking for help.
Students can drop a note or fill out a pre-made form that asks what they want to talk about and rate the level of urgency. Those with “big problem” checked get immediate attention.
“It’s amazing the things that you find out that kids really want to be able to talk to you about,” Williams said. “I have had kids that have been sexually assaulted. I have had kids that have been abused.”
All of it she found out from notes dropped in her locker.
“This one, they decided to tell me they have some good news for me,” Williams said reading another note. “I love getting those as well.”
“Whenever I talked to her before, I was like… feeling crazy,” fifth-grader Serenity Dillard said. “After I talked to her, I figured out what I was supposed to do and it was better.”
“It helped me focus more on what she told me than what the other person’s telling me,” fifth-grader Mauricio Flores said.
“It’s working,” Williams said of her effort to get kids talking about their own mental health. “These aren’t just kids to me. They’re my life.”