For more than twenty years, Kent has had a thriving Peer Counselor program. Student counselors learn how to be proactive, effective listeners, empowering their peers to make good decisions and empowering one another with information and resources for learning, depending on the issue at hand.
Peer Counselors are trained to respond to students in need. At the beginning of every school year they are invited to “early week” to be among the first welcoming new students to the campus and they coordinate with the Director of Peer Counseling, regarding any possible issues of homesickness and adjustment to a boarding school schedule. Many Peer Counselors also serve as orientation leaders, working closely with groups of newly enrolled students, providing support and advice at the beginning of the school year. For the rest of the year, Peer Counselors are present to provide a valuable resource for students to discuss whatever issues face our student body.
Kent has averaged more than sixty Peer Counselors each school year, slightly more than ten percent of our student body. Acceptance into the program involves a competitive application process including teacher recommendations, approval of Form Deans and an interview with the Director of the program. Students who are selected then attend three Sunday training sessions, averaging four to five hours each, during which they are taught a wide variety of subjects including drug and alcohol awareness, questions and issues regarding sexual identity, navigating cultural differences, peer mediation and conflict resolution, and learn how to recognize symptoms of stress, distress and anxiety. The Peer Counselors learn all about the resources available in the Health Center including the school counselor, the psychologist on-call, as well as the availability of other counselors and therapists in the area. Also, the Director of the Peer Counseling program is available for grief counseling, and as a member of the Chapel Team, serves as a liaison to the Chaplains and Dean of the Chapel.
The Peer Counseling program is a vibrant, active program constantly at work improving the lives of students ranging from identifying students who are homesick to helping one another cope with the stress of exams and everything in between. Working the Health Center, the program is part of the larger network of support and care which uniquely characterize Kent School.