Mr. Brandon Payne has always been interested in school counseling by supporting students throughout all aspects of their academic and personal lives.
“I enjoy working with students and getting to know them,” he said. “I have always been fascinated by child development and how kids develop emotionally. I also just love to help people.”
Before arriving at PA Distance, Mr. Payne earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Education for Counseling Psychology, and a School Counseling Certification for PK-12. Now into his 4th school year, Mr. Payne serves as the school counselor for students with last names A-G in grades K-6 along with Ms. Brianna Edwards (names H-N) and Ms. Katie Sanko (names O-Z).
Depending on the grade level, Mr. Payne will communicate with his students, and their parents, via a variety of ways including phone, text, G-chat, email, and Google Hangouts. Whether it's to reach out with help on an assignment or just to talk about what’s happening in their lives, Mr. Payne is available for students.
“For my younger students, I speak with a lot of parents on the phone, but it's always based on their preference,” he said. “Sometimes, I even text with parents, if they want.”
“Some students just want to talk and want that connection,” he explained.
In addition to their daily supports, Mr. Payne and his team also plan and coordinate a variety of extracurricular events and resources for their students, too, including homeroom lessons, career fairs, red ribbon week festivities, lunch bunches, and much more.
Mr. Payne, and the rest of the school counselors, host monthly themed lessons within each grade’s homeroom times. For October, the PA Distance school counselors are highlighting National Bullying Prevention Month.
“In elementary specifically, we will be focusing on identifying what bullying is and what makes a bully. Different types of bullying will be discussed and we will be sharing/collaborating ways on how we can safely respond to a situation in which someone is getting bullied,” he explained.
“Various videos, stories, and activities will be utilized to promote classroom discussion. In older grade levels, we will introduce the idea of an "upstander" and discuss the importance of this role when it comes to bullying prevention,” Mr. Payne added.
Mr. Payne, and the entire Elementary School Counselor department, have also been hosting bi-weekly “Lunch Bunch” virtual events for students in grades K-6. Students have the opportunity to gather during their lunch hour to learn how to be mindful and to be kind and how to remain focused and calm. They also have the chance to chat, play fun activities, and just hang out with one another.
As a school counselor, he is also in constant communication with the elementary principal, Mrs. Ploesch, all of the grade-level teachers, the Family Engagement Team, and of course, the other school counselors to make sure the needs of every student are met.
“I love the collaboration and everything we can offer our students,” he said. “All members of our staff want to be here and they are all focused on their students.”
Last but not least, Mr. Payne is known for his fun-loving attitude while collaborating with staff and communicating with his students and their parents. His love for his job shines through as he often dresses up for special holidays and events - from Dr. Seuss Day to PSSA test preparation - at various times each school year. “I like to do what I can to get students excited about the opportunities we have to celebrate certain events throughout the year,” he said.
“I’m just being myself when I dress up and act silly and I want our students to embrace their individuality and celebrate their uniqueness,” he added.