Updates with the Counselors


Alex Kane

Mrs. Davis, Mr. Strong, Mrs. Piascik, Mrs. Mullay, Mrs. Mowrey, Mrs. Westbrooks, Mrs. Stepanczuk, and Mrs. Trachtman all play important roles in ensuring students can access a range of school counseling services.

Across the nation, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health became far more important to schools than it had ever been before. Consequently, an influx of new resources was needed to help better serve students. Southern Lehigh High School’s counseling department has made several updates to their infrastructure, such as new tools on the high school website.

“There are a lot of good resources on the school page: academic support, mental health tips and other resources,” guidance counselor Mrs. Kristen Stepanczuk said. “The biggest challenge last year was communication with students, so the website is really refined with that.”

Last year Mrs. Stepanczuk stepped into a newly created counselor position at the high school and currently serves students with last names Rj-Z. 

“We were fortunate; we made a proposal to the school board to add a fourth counselor so that our students would get even better services from their school counselor, because the counselors would have fewer [students] on their caseload,” high school principal Mrs. Beth Guariello said.

Mrs. Stepanczuk believes that mental health plays a  pivotal role within a student’s education, especially after living through a pandemic, which disrupted the counseling department’s ability to serve students.

“What was unfortunate was, last year we weren’t able to meet with students or parents in meetings because of the pandemic,” Mrs. Stepanczuk said. “This year though, we can meet all of our students in person, as well as giving the option for parents to either come in person for their meeting or Zoom in from home.”

The newest face in the guidance counseling office is Mrs. Samantha Trachtman, hired to replace Mrs. Lynne Kelley, who retired in June after 19 years of service to the district. Mrs. Trachtman serves students with last names F-K.  

Through various updates in both personnel and resources, the counseling department is working to better serve both students and their families. 

“We’ve needed to increase our amount of service the students can have than in the past,” school psychologist Mr. Cotie Strong said. “We’re now at similar levels of [student] support to local high schools such as Saucon [Valley] and Parkland.” 

As a result of the increased services, the counseling department feels that it will now be better equipped to serve students on an individual basis. 

“Having our school counselors have less cases means they can provide more targeted support.” Mr. Strong said. “Having in-house support is good, so that  if a student can’t get help or the family lacks the means, it means they can get it at the school.”

With fewer students for each of the four counselors, there is more time allotted for them to spend with each student. More time to provide individualized assistance and advice is something the guidance staff believes will benefit students greatly. 

“If the students’ mental health is supported and able to be more mentally healthy, then they can attend school more, be more productive, and academically successful,” Mr. Strong said. “They will also be more involved and [this will] help them overall as a person.”