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Coronado Unified School District

Every Child, Every Day
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Clinical Counseling

CUSD Clinical Counseling

Student Services

The Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) recognizes the interconnectedness of issues contributing to academic success, from physical and mental health to social and environmental factors.   CUSD strives to foster social emotional wellness, mindful self-awareness and overall character in tandem with academic skills in order to support students' ability to access learning.  At each school site, clinical counselors collaborate with families, administrators and other support staff to underline the development of the whole student and his/her ownership of his/her abilities, choices and outlook.  Educating the whole child means focusing on overall student well-being and addressing each student in the context of the circumstances and unique stressors and emotions they experience. 
Our approach to learning is informed by new research that illuminates both the pervasiveness of stressful or traumatic childhood events and the negative impact they can have on school performance, social, emotional, and cognitive development and overall health.  The exposure to adverse childhood experiences or ACEs—such as divorce, loss, or illness—can have an enormous impact on a student’s ability to access learning, employ a growth mindset, form positive relationships, and behave appropriately at school. Students who have histories of traumatic experiences in which their basic rights and needs have been neglected, struggle to trust and stand up for their rights, needs and desires in ways  that are respectful of themselves and others. Students can often find savvy, “disruptive” ways to get their needs met and need structure, choice, collaboration and empowerment to build an authentic, balanced, positive sense of self.   (For more on the ACEs study visit  
Our district aims to create environments at each school site that provide students with the safety and emotional support necessary to be ready and available for learning.   Clinical counselors embrace the following ideas and approaches in the goal to support whole child and address barriers to learning: 
Mental Health Resources


Brain research has shown that when a child experiences distressing emotions, centers for learning are affected.   Neuroscientist and parent educator Dan Siegel describes mindfulness as “form of mental activity that trains the mind to become aware of awareness itself and to pay attention to one’s own intention.” Mindfulness practice is proven to build resilience and self control:   as students are able to recognize their emotional and physical experience of stress, they are better able to articulate their needs.    Dan Siegel on mindfulness


Studies of a growth mindset tells us that when we change our outlook, internalize our own self-worth and have a willingness to make mistakes we also think, feel, and behave differently.
Research has pointed to grit as a pivotal characteristic, distinct from intelligence  or talent, of academic and professional success:  Dr. Angela Duckworth famously gave a TED talk defining GRIT  as “living life like it’s a marathon not a sprint.” Students who show GRIT, the ability to consistently apply themselves towards a goal, also possess a sense of WORTHINESS.  Students who feel worthiness are not afraid of failure and not only can they accept their learning curve and persevere in the face of setbacks, but they show more compassion for the learning curve and choices of others.  The clinical counseling team aims to build awareness and dialogue within CUSD and the community, and foster students who have a sense of WORTHINESS and belief in their own purpose and meaning, and even more importantly, can examine their approach to factors in and out of their control and own their imperfections and vulnerabilities as part of success.


Research has shown, that character, like any habit, can be learned, and students who feel worthy and have compassion for themselves and their process pay that compassion and understanding forward in the treatment of others.  In connection with CUSD’s character counts curriculum, clinical counselors provide developmentally structured character education geared at building social emotional learning competencies essential to character:  self-awareness, responsible decisions making, relationship skills, social awareness, and self-management.
Science of character video discusses the science behind empathy, grit, courage and more how we each can consciously strive to improve our character:


Research shows that connecting with people is one of the most important components of health and happier living. In order to thoroughly promote student wellness, we understand that character is built in community, and there is a need for a culture of compassion to be embraced every day in classrooms, homes, and in every interaction with and among students
We are excited to have services at each site and a district wide calendar of events  (link)* geared at addressing topics to promote wellness,  from mindfulness practices, anti-bullying/up-stander education and assertiveness skills, to drug abuse prevention and mental health awareness.      
The Building Blocks of Resiliency

The Building Blocks of Resiliency


Presentation Materials  Did you miss the Clinical Counselors presentation at SEPAC, or were not able to attend?

Click HERE to view the presentation materials and handouts. 

Clinical Counseling Contact Information


Coronado High School

Afsanaeh Safaie, Clinical Counselor
Yesenia Zavalza, Clinical Counselor
Katie Ghio, Clinical Counselor

Coronado Middle School

Katie Ghio, Clinical Counselor
Elise O'Rourke Agrella, Clinical Counselor
Rebecca Rabe, Clinical Counselor

Village Elementary School

Jennifer Slusher, Clinical Counselor
Katie Rademacher, ERMHS Clinician

Silver Strand Elementary School

Sophia Frost, Clinical Counselor

Additional CUSD Counseling Supports