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A Day in the Life: Student Support Coach Anne Giles

I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Longwood University. I earned my Master of Education degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lynchburg College. I have been employed with UMFS since May 2014, first as a Youth Counselor in the Neurological and Developmental Differences cottage, and for the past 2 years and 2 months as a Student Support Coach in the Neurological and Developmental Differences (N&DD) program. I am currently pursuing licensure as a professional counselor. When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband, running, cooking, touring craft breweries, and exploring Virginia on road trips!

Before 8:00 a.m. – I am fortunate to live quite close to where I work, which gives me more “me time” in the mornings. I’m up at 5:45 Monday-Friday for coffee, reading (I love crime fiction novels), breakfast, and morning prep. I’m at work by about 7:20 each day.

7:25-8:00 a.m. – I begin each work day by getting organized – the key to my work happiness and success as a Student Support Coach! I return emails, prepare for the day, print materials, communicate with students’ parents, etc.

8:05 a.m. – The students begin pouring in. My first task of the day is to sort through students’ backpacks with them for safety. It’s also my first opportunity of the day to greet the students in our program and to perform a “temperature check” of the atmosphere of the school as the day begins.

8:45 a.m.-11:35 a.m. – I return to class as soon as all of my students have arrived and the hallways are calm and quiet. At this time, there is usually at least one student who’d like to “process” with me (our term for discussing feelings and situations, talking through how to respond to a situation or person, providing coping skills, and reflective listening with students as I model appropriate, positive, respectful conversations). I particularly like to make visuals with my students, such as lists or flowcharts, so that they have a physical reminder of what we processed and so they are learning the skills of stress relief, organization, and mental compartmentalization. We walk the hallways a lot to assist with the flow of thoughts. If students do not need to process, I am available throughout my class’s four core classes (Science, History, Math, and English). You can usually find me on the computer working on a new project, or taking behavior and IEP data on paper. I am also in constant communication with my wonderful N&DD teammates!

11:35-12:05 – I am usually not needed during this time except to socialize. My students enjoy free time on the computer prior to the arrival of lunch, so I use this time to get caught up on checking emails, planning for the remainder of the day, and assisting with coverage gaps where needed throughout the program. I sometimes try to take a short lunch break as my students begin their Integrated Growth Approach class with the therapists and Therapeutic Coaches at 12:05.

12:55 p.m. – My favorite class of the day begins: PE! As much as possible, I like to be an active participant in PE with my students, whether we are playing the “basketball cone-shooting game,” Four Corner Tag, kickball, “Name Ball,” or any other fun, competitive activity. This is a prime opportunity to further develop rapport with my students, particularly those who need kinetic activity in order to process, or those who don’t use words as well as they do actions to communicate.

1:45 p.m. – My Technology group transitions to the most challenging class of the day, as students wind down their days and prepare to transition home or back to their cottages (I have a mix of day students and residential students). I am almost always processing with a student or two as I wind down my own day by editing my weekly updates to parents, students’ IEP data, and my own organizational tasks (especially pertinent for moving along with the licensure process).

After 3:00 p.m. – I usually have Student Support Coach Professional Learning Community meetings, N&DD team meetings, an all-staff meeting, or individual supervision in the afternoons. If not, I wrap up my day and prepare for the next day. Of course, there is a never-ending stream of emails to keep up with! I also use this time to reflect on my work as a Resident in Counseling and ways I can continually improve, learn, and grow.

3:45-5:30 p.m. – I head home before my husband. I am able to work out (run, yoga, dance or workout video like T-25), shower, begin dinner, and start on my to-do list before he arrives home. Again, organization is huge for me, so planning our meals and grocery list ahead of time, as well as prepping for the next work day, is key for me to feel relaxed in the evenings. Once my husband arrives home, we enjoy dinner together, discuss our days, plan for the weekend, and watch a show together from the DVR (we are especially into “Chicago Med” and “SVU” these days).

6:00-9:45 – My husband and I soak up as much time together as we can before we do it all again the next day! I make it a point not to receive work email to my cell phone as part of my self-care regimen. That way, I’m not “plugged in” all the time, and I can maintain a healthy separation between work and home life. By 9:45, I’m crawling in bed after prepping my lunch, outfit, and planner for the next day. That’s a day in the life of a Student Support Coach!