BY ALEXANDRA SANSONE
Even amid all the noise of high school life, Cowboys can rest assured that there will always be someone who’s all ears when they need it.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness. Youth is generally considered to be the most relaxed and enjoyable period of life before facing adulthood. But in recent years, Generation Z— those born between 1995 and 2015— has been feeling more stressed than ever.
So where should struggling students go when their guidance counselors are busy, and they feel they can’t turn to a parent or guardian? Those at CCHS should direct their attention to none other than Ms. Eileen Nissman-Stern and Ms. Shantelle Moxie.
Students can stop by during lunch or receive a pass to visit during their personalization period. A teacher can call to send them down if necessary and students can also make appointments in person or through an email.
If Ms. Moxie and Ms. Eileen are in a session at the time another student comes to the door, they will schedule another time to meet with you if you decide not to wait outside. Ms. Moxie advises students to stick a note under the door, so she is aware someone is waiting.
“I help any student with any kind of problem.”
Both speak with a calm, soothing voice and wear radiant smiles when addressing their students. They create an inclusive and judgment-free environment for all students who choose to visit them.
Coming from a long line of educators, Ms. Eileen claims that initially, she was “running as far away from education” as she could. Eventually, she interned with Broward County and was hired immediately after her program ended. Ms. Eileen has worked for Broward County for over 30 years and at CCHS as a school social worker for almost 7 years.
“My door is open to whoever needs to come here,” Ms. Eileen said. “[Everyone at this] school is my student.”
Her door is located at the end of the hallway opposite of your guidance counselors in the guidance office. Ms. Moxie, CCHS’s family counselor, is just next to the front desk in the main office.
Ms. Moxie, having operated in social work for the past 22 years, has always wanted to work with children. New this year to CCHS, she has expressed that she wants every student to feel welcome to her services.
“I help any student with any kind of problem,” Ms. Moxie said. “That can be anything from stressing about a test or a class or a conflict with a teacher or another student or issues at home.”
“My office is a place that is inclusive.”
Both Ms. Moxie and Ms. Eileen operate under strict confidentiality laws, meaning anything said during sessions with them cannot be shared with teachers, other counselors, students or parents.
“Everything is confidential, so I don’t share anything with parents, teachers, guidance counselors, nobody.” Ms. Moxie said. “Everything is, by law, confidential unless I have concerns that [a student] is going to hurt themselves or hurt others or someone is hurting them. Then I have to report it to the proper authorities.”
Ms. Moxie can have up to three sessions with a student without notifying their parents or guardians. After three sessions, students are still welcome to sit down with her, but parental permission and signed paperwork are required.
Ms. Eileen operates a bit more informally and functions similarly to a guidance counselor in the sense that she can meet with students numerous times without reporting home. If a student is frequently visiting, however, she will ask permission to call home to let parents know that they are meeting.
“My office is a place that is inclusive. Anybody can come here with any concern,” Ms. Eileen said. “It’s a place where they can calm down, where they can receive whatever I am capable of giving them.”
At the end of the interview I conducted for this article, both women took to questioning me about my well-being, and when I left I felt better despite having talked the least out of everyone there. And out of everything that was said, one thing was made extremely clear— if you are feeling stressed out for any reason, find someone to talk to. Whether it’s a trusted adult at school, or someone else, the best way to go through something is with a support system behind you.
Photo by Alexandra Sansone