Caroline Cioffi, Reporter
Located across from the nurse’s office, students may notice a classroom door decorate with the words “I help with…” and brightly colored shapes displaying feelings like “worried”, “confused”, and “stressed” that many students experience on a daily basis. Once inside, students will find a bean bag chair, a variety of posters, and the welcoming face of Samantha Wynn, Kids In Crisis Outreach Counselor.
Ms. Sam has been a counselor for many years and brings her experience counseling children and adults facing a variety of circumstances to the New Canaan High School community through the ‘Teen Talk’ program. Ms. Sam has, “counseled people with a variety of issues. Substance abuse, I’ve done. I’ve worked with people who have depression, anxiety, and everything in between,” she said.
In April of 2016, Ed Milton left the high school after counseling students for 10 years. Though another counselor replaced Ed briefly, Ms. Sam recognizes the void left after so many years of consistency. “Since Ed was here for so long, it’s been kind of empty for a while so I’m trying to bring all of my experience and my love for working with adolescents and teenagers in a high school setting,” she said.
Ms. Sam realizes that students are faced with an overwhelming amount of pressure and emphasizes that students are welcome to use her as a resource whenever they may need it. “[Students] can come to me if they’re feeling anxious, if they had a fight with a friend and they want to try to resolve that conflict, basically any issues that they’re having. The position was created as another way to support students,” she said.
Ms. Sam emphasized the importance of students recognizing when they need help and not being afraid to come to her. “A lot of times, students don’t want to talk about things but, if they utilize it, I think [counseling]could absolutely help a lot in gaining skills and tools to learn how to manage things,” she said. “As you grow up to be adults and graduate, and prepare for college and all of those wonderful things, we have to learn how to balance in life.”
Students can find Ms. Sam in her office in Room 202, across from the nurse’s office. She is available to talk to students about symptoms of depression, anxiety, and family and peer conflict, among other things. Kids In Crisis also has a 24-hour hotline available at (203) 661-1911. Ms. Sam emphasized that anything students say to her will remain confidential. “I think it is important that the students realize that I am separate from the school,” she said. “Even though I am stationed at the school, I’m not technically a school district employee which means everything is confidential unless they tell me they’re gonna hurt themselves or hurt somebody else … so, this is a place that they can come and talk and they can be free with it and I don’t go back and run and tell anybody.”