The QT Counselors: We've Got Your Back!
Welcome families and students to the Queens Technical High School Guidance Department Page! Here you will find links to resources, see what's going on in the guidance office, and meet the counselors!
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Guidance Department Blog and Announcements
Who are the QT counselors?
School of Computer Engineering Technologies- Pre-engineering and Computer Tech. Counselor
Ms. Mualem holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Beloit College in Wisconsin and a Master’s degree in School Counseling from New York University.
Ms. M is dedicated to helping students through their struggles to improve academic skills and attain social-emotional growth. She considers herself an excellent listener, thoughtful and approachable, as well as being empathetic, validating, challenging, straightforward and genuine. She encourages students to share their stories while working collaboratively to identify obstacles, which prevent them from reaching their full potential. A big believer in the power of peer support, Ms. M has vast experience in establishing small groups dealing with topics such as anxiety, peer relations and self-esteem, providing support, insight and relief in a safe, confidential and caring environment.
Possessing a thorough understanding of the importance of a partnership amongst family, school and community in developing a truly effective plan to enhance the student’s experience, Ms. M is committed to promoting teamwork while supporting the students and their families.
Through her extensive travels, Ms. M developed a great appreciation and respect for different cultures, languages and traditions. She loves all things outdoors, especially when it involves water or mountains, adrenaline spiking sports, film, crossword puzzles, experimenting in the kitchen and video editing. Yet her biggest pleasure, still remains, hanging around with family and friends, chatting, eating and feeling good vibes.
School of Exploration and Discovery Counselor/9th Grade
Ms. Vasquez split her childhood between Queens, NY and Nassau County, Long Island. She attended public school all her life and always wanted to give back to the school system that nurtured her. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Stony Brook University in Anthropology and a Master's Degree in Bilingual Counselor Education from Queens College. Ms. Vasquez always enjoyed learning about human history, culture, and the arts.
She has been a counselor for NYC since 2011 and has been the 9th grade counselor at Queens Technical High School since 2015. She loves working with teens and believes that at this important age, a lot of big, positive changes can be made! Ms. Vasquez believes every child has a talent into bring this world and it is our job as educators to help develop that talent.
When she's not at Queens Tech., Ms. Vasquez loves to dance! She is a professional salsa dancer and has traveled around the country performing and dancing with people form all over the world. She also coaches the QT Dance Team, which always performs in the annual QT Talent Show. Ms. Vasquez also loves to go to the beach, travel, and play with her dog Monty!
In addition to email and phone, you can text Ms. Vasquez at https://www.remind.com/join/h66e6f
Graphic Arts, Plumbing, Cosmetology, Barbering, Multimedia and our second College and Career Counselor
Ms. Mejia Juan attended CUNY Hunter College where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and M.S. Ed. in School Counseling with a Bilingual Spanish extension. Ms. Mejia Juan is certified as a Bilingual School Counselor grades K through 12. She is also a first-generation college student who grew up in Sunnyside and is excited to be back in the neighborhood.
As a graduate of New York City’s public school education system, Ms. Mejia Juan is passionate about supporting students academically, socially, and, emotionally during their time in high school. She enjoys working with teens during a crucial time in their lives that is filled with much change as they enter young adulthood and prepare for life after high school. As a counselor, she assists students and their families in addressing the challenges that may hinder their academic achievement, personal success, and post-secondary plans. Ms. Mejia Juan began her career in education three years ago in the college advising field and is thrilled to continue to work with students at Queens Tech in a similar role.
As a new counselor, Ms. Mejia Juan is looking forward to collaborating with educators at Queens Tech and helping students grow to achieve their full potential. During her free time Ms. Mejia Juan enjoys spending time with her family, friends, trying out new places to eat, and traveling.
Electrical Installation Counselor
Bio coming soon...
The Guidance Blog
There are many times when children do not want to go to school. But when does it cross the line into something else? If you find that your child seems to have a lot of excuses as to why they can't go to school, please read the article below.
When Kids Refuse to Go to School | School Refusal Behavior
The term “school refusal” used to be more or less synonymous with truancy, invoking a picture of kids hanging out on the street corner, or holed up in their bedrooms playing video games.
Everyone resists going to school once in a while, but school refusal behavior is an extreme pattern of avoiding school that causes real problems for a child. School refusal is distinguished from normal avoidance by a number of factors:
- How long a child has been avoiding school
- How much distress she associates with attending school
- How strongly she resists
- How much her resistance is interfering with her (and her family’s) life
Including all these aspects is important, because a child can still have school refusal even if she attends school most days. I’ve worked with kids who have missed only a day or two of school, but they’ve been tardy 30 times because their anxiety is so extreme it keeps them from getting to school on time. Kids with school refusal might also have a habit of leaving early, spending a lot of time visiting the nurse, or texting parents throughout the day.
Suspicious sick days
Often kids with school refusal will start reporting unexplained symptoms like headaches or stomachaches. Anxiety does manifest in physical ways, so their symptoms could be indicative of that. As a parent, the first thing you want to do in this situation is get your child checked out by a pediatrician; you don’t want to overlook a medical problem. But it may be that going to school is her problem.
Related: Anxiety in the Classroom
Sometimes resistance to attending school is just a little blip on the radar, and it can be easily remedied. Maybe your child had the flu and was out for a good amount of time, and now she is having a hard time making the transition back to school. Suddenly she’s getting clingy and anxious about all the homework she missed.
In this scenario, it is important not to prolong time at home. Instead, you want to have a conversation with the teacher and with your daughter. You want to be able to tell her, “We’ve talked to your teacher, and he knows you were sick. I know you’re worried, but he understands. It’s time to get back to school.” Then she returns to school and often things go relatively smoothly.
Similarly, some kids in school experience blips of anxiety after vacations. The key point is to get children back in school as soon as possible.
More serious concerns
When school refusal starts to become a bigger problem—it’s going on for numerous days, weeks or even months—you should reach out and ask for help. This includes kids who go to school but only attend partial days because they are spending a lot of time in the nurse’s office and getting sent home early from school.
Understanding the problem
For more serious cases of school refusal, the first step in treatment is getting a comprehensive diagnostic assessment. While school refusal is not a diagnosable disorder, it often accompanies disorders like separation anxiety or social anxiety. A complete assessment helps treatment professionals understand what is underlying school refusal, allowing them to tailor therapy to your child’s particular situation.
It’s also possible that something specific is happening at school, like bullying or a difficult class. This doesn’t mean you should immediately jump in and ask your child who doesn’t want to go to school, “Who’s bullying you?” But it is important to know what is going on in your child’s life. You should expect to hear what her teacher is like and how homework is going. You should also have a sense of the kids your child is hanging out with. These are all things that should come up in everyday conversation. And if your child mentions that something happened that day, perk your ears and put down whatever you were doing and listen in a nonjudgmental way, because it could be important.
Treatment providers working with kids who have school refusal will often use cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps kids learn to manage their anxious thoughts and face their fears. While kids who are anxious might disagree, the best way to get over anxiety is actually to get more comfortable with feeling anxious. Kids need the chance to see that they can attend school and their worst fears won’t happen. Exposure therapy, which reintroduces kids to the school environment gradually, is very effective at this. In the very beginning of treatment, this might mean driving by the school or walking through its empty halls on the weekend. From there kids can work up to attending one or two classes and then eventually attending a full day towards the end of treatment.
It’s best to be proactive and catch school refusal as soon as you can. Unfortunately, the longer a child misses school, the harder it is to get back in the routine, because being absent is very reinforcing. I have worked with families that describe getting ready for school like it’s a battle complete with huge tantrums. Sometimes the morning gets so challenging and exhausting that mom and dad just give up and say, “Fine, stay home; I’ll go pick up your homework.” It’s a very understandable situation, but again, letting it continue puts kids one day further from being back at school. It is important for parents to know that the sooner the child gets back to school the better, and reaching out for help is an important first step.
With the anniversary of September 11th just past us, I was thinking about ways we should discuss terrible events and the way the media portrays them to our children. The following article from Common Sense Media(which has excellent resources for parents and educators, check them out here! https://www.commonsensemedia.org ) goes over tips to talking to children of all ages. It's important to remember that children don't process or react to things the way adults do and we may need to adjust our tactics and what we allow them to be exposed to. Happy reading!
Explaining the News to Our Kids
If it bleeds, it leads. The old newsroom adage about milking stories for sensationalism seems truer than ever today. And with technology doing the heavy lifting -- sending updates, tweets, posts, and breaking news alerts directly to our kids' phones -- we parents are often playing catch-up. Whether it's wall-to-wall coverage of the latest natural disaster, a horrific mass shooting, a suicide broadcast on social media, or a violent political rally, it's nearly impossible to keep the news at bay until you're able to figure out what to say. The bottom line is that elementary school-aged kids and some middle schoolers have trouble fully understanding news events. And though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges when it comes to sifting fact from opinion -- or misinformation.
No matter how old your kids are, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally. Many can feel worried, frightened, angry, or even guilty. And these anxious feelings can last long after the news event is over. So what can you do as a parent to help your kids deal with all this information?
Addressing News and Current Events: Tips for all kids
Consider your own reactions. Your kids will look to the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. If you stay calm and rational, they will, too.
Take action. Depending on the issue and kids' ages, families can find ways to help those affected by the news. Kids can write postcards to politicians expressing their opinions; families can attend meetings or protests; kids can help assemble care packages or donate a portion of their allowance to a rescue/humanitarian effort. Check out websites that help kids do good.
Tips for kids under 7
Keep the news away. Turn off the TV and radio news at the top of the hour and half hour. Read the newspaper out of range of young eyes that can be frightened by the pictures (kids may respond strongly to pictures of other kids in jeopardy). Preschool kids don't need to see or hear about something that will only scare them silly, especially because they can easily confuse facts with fantasies or fears.
Stress that your family is safe. At this age, kids are most concerned with your safety and separation from you. Try not to minimize or discount their concerns and fears, but reassure them by explaining all the protective measures that exist to keep them safe. If the news event happened far away, you can use the distance to reassure kids. For kids who live in areas where crime and violence is a very real threat, any news account of violence may trigger extra fear. If that happens, share a few age-appropriate tips for staying and feeling safe (being with an adult, keeping away from any police activity).
Be together. Though it's important to listen and not belittle their fears, distraction and physical comfort can go a long way. Snuggling up and watching something cheery or doing something fun together may be more effective than logical explanations about probabilities.
Tips for kids 8–12
Carefully consider your child's maturity and temperament. Many kids can handle a discussion of threatening events, but if your kids tend toward the sensitive side, be sure to keep them away from the TV news; repetitive images and stories can make dangers appear greater, more prevalent, and closer to home.
Be available for questions and conversation. At this age, many kids will see the morality of events in stark black-and-white terms and are in the process of developing their moral beliefs. You may have to explain the basics of prejudice, bias, and civil and religious strife. But be careful about making generalizations, since kids will take what you say to the bank. This is a good time to ask them what they know, since they'll probably have gotten their information from friends, and you may have to correct facts.
Talk about -- and filter -- news coverage. You might explain that even news programs compete for viewers, which sometimes affects content decisions. If you let your kids use the Internet, go online with them. Some of the pictures posted are simply grisly. Monitor where your kids are going, and set your URLs to open to non-news-based portals.
Tips for teens
Check in. Since, in many instances, teens will have absorbed the news independently of you, talking with them can offer great insights into their developing politics and their senses of justice and morality. It will also help you get a sense of what they already know or have learned about the situation from their own social networks. It will also give you the opportunity to throw your own insights into the mix (just don't dismiss theirs, since that will shut down the conversation immediately).
Let teens express themselves. Many teens will feel passionately about events and may even personalize them if someone they know has been directly affected. They'll also probably be aware that their own lives could be affected by violence. Try to address their concerns without dismissing or minimizing them. If you disagree with media portrayals, explain why so your teens can separate the mediums through which they absorb news from the messages conveyed.
How many times a day do you find yourself checking your phone?
When I think about it myself, I'm amazed to realize that it's probably a minimum of 50 times a day. To put that in writing, makes it sound pretty nuts! Then I think about our students with their still developing brains and complex adolescent biology, emotions, and peer relationships and I can't help but wonder how this much screen time and technology is affecting them. How much is too much and when does it cross the line to an addiction? Read below to find out a little more...
- Ms. Vasquez
Are Our Kids Tech Addicts?
Is it okay to text someone to invite them to the prom? To break up with someone by text?
Texting has become the preferred mode of communication for this generation of teenagers, the experts at the Child Mind Institute’s Spring Luncheon agreed, and it has some serious drawbacks, illustrated by the not-hypothetical examples above.
The subject of the luncheon was how technology is affecting our children and family life. Ali Wentworth, comedian, actor and moderator of the event, kicked things off by saying, “I’m a basic, relatable mom. And I have two kids who, I fear, are addicted to social media and their phones.”
Catherine Steiner-Adair, psychologist and author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, noted that whether or not the addiction model applies to technology, there’s no question that we are all psychologically dependent on our phones. These devices are so neurologically stimulating that we start to crave them, to miss them if we haven’t checked them lately. “We feel separation anxiety if we are not connected to our phones,” she added.
As to the drawbacks of communicating by text and email, Dr. Steiner-Adair noted that we don’t hear tone of voice, or see the impact of our words on the other person. And this has been linked to a drop in empathy and failure to develop social/emotional skills in this generation of adolescents.
Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute and the panel’s other expert, noted that the impact on healthy development is related to how much time kids spend on screens. “When there are decreases in interpersonal skills it tends to be in people using them the most, or using devices in place of other things, ” he explained.
Dr. Anderson cited research that found that for kids who spent less than a third of their free time on screens, it’s actually mental health positive. “It’s a way of relaxing, it’s a way of connecting, taking stock of news of the day, news of your friends.” But for kids who are on screens more than two-thirds of their time, he said, it was mental health negative — resulting in decreases in pro-social skills and empathy, and an increase in depression and anxiety.
Among the topics of spirited debate was kids multitasking. Wentworth described finding her daughter, the evening before, doing her homework on one screen, texting on another, with Gilmore Girls playing on a third. “I have ADHD,” her daughter explained. “This is how I do my homework.”
Whether or not they have ADHD, Dr. Steiner-Adair noted, kids now are habituated to having a great deal of stimulation. “It’s hard to keep your mind focused and quiet on one thing,” she said, and she thinks it’s a very important thing to learn. When kids have three screens on at a time they’re not developing the ability to focus. “What I say to kids is, ‘You’re the boss of your brain. Your capacity to do one thing at a time is so important for creativity, for whatever you want to do.’ ”
Dr. Steiner-Adair urges parents to talk to kids about protecting themselves neurologically, about the importance of nurturing the capacity for creativity, for deep focus, for solitude. “One of the biggest losses we’ve seen in this generation in the last 10 years — and this is critical for human beings — is the capacity for solitude, to be quiet with yourself.”
The experts agreed that a no-devices rule is imperative for the dinner table — but adults have to follow the rule, as well as kids. And there was heated discussion of the pros and cons of taking away phones as a form of punishment. Wentworth copped to using it, as the only thing that seemed to get a serious reaction from her daughters. Dr. Anderson noted that “the effectiveness of punishment is not based on the level of emotional stress that it causes,” and he encouraged parents to have other alternatives in the arsenal — to keep the phone from being “forbidden fruit” — and to put more stress on recognizing and praising desirable behavior. Dr. Steiner-Adair noted that taking the phone away does send the message that corrective action is needed, and it has one other upside: “Kids actually learn that it doesn’t kill them.”
Need to know- Anxiety
Dear families and students,
Do you ever feel so worried and stressed it derails your whole day? Or avoid social situations for fear of being judged or embarrassed? Maybe you have recurring nightmares or flashbacks of something that happened in the past. All of these things are linked to what we call anxiety. Anxiety can get so bad it stops us right in our tracks and stops us from living a normal life.
Please visit the website below to read more about anxiety (disponible en espanol).
If you feel your child may be suffering from anxiety, please contact their counselor. Ms. Mualem runs an anxiety group for students every week and our Western Queens team can help by providing counseling to your child in or out of school. We are here to help!
-The QT Counselors
Need more help or information for your child?
Contact one of our Western Queens Consultation Center Counselors in Room 213