Tenaya School opens support center

February 18, 2003 12:00 am

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

While helping the students of Tenaya Elementary School, counselors Shelly Beeman and Tracy Sundstrand realized families — as well as their children — could benefit from counseling.

The community sprang into action, and with money donated by Helping Hands and others, quickly turned a portable classroom donated by the Soroptimist Club into Tenaya's new support center.

"I think everyone saw the overwhelming need," said Tenaya School Principal Don Moore.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, Moore welcomed members of Soroptimist and Helping Hands — a local group concerned with children and the elderly — and the district's administration.

Beeman and Sundstrand also attended the opening, and told the audience a little about their day-to-day work before the portable became a support center.

"Seventh grade is the big onslaught of issues for our kids," Beeman said. "It's tough for them."

Sundstrand and Beeman were serving about 60 kids — counseling four to 10 each day in a cubicle that lacked privacy — Sundstrand said.

But the cramped quarters now have been expanded.

The new support center includes an area for art and music therapy, with a doll house for younger students to "act out family drama," Beeman said. The center also has space for counseling groups or families and a corner for the counselors' office.

The counseling needs of families became apparent to Sundstrand and Beeman while they were talking to students. For now, the two will only attempt to serve Tenaya students and their families, but they hope to expand soon.

The two counselors are available two days a week, but they would like their services to be available more often.

"Eventually, we'd like to serve the whole Groveland area," Sundstrand said. "We're just waiting for more funding."

The center still needs a television, toys, books, furniture and art supplies to better serve young clients, and the two counselors are hoping the Groveland community will continue to support the center by donating these items.