Making friends while the sun shines Guidance counselor invites summer visits

July 31, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

A month from now, the footsteps and shouts of hundreds of children will echo through the halls of North Glen Elementary School, and guidance counselor Millie DeSimone won't have much quiet time to get to know her charges.

That's why she has invited children to visit her at school this summer, to read a favorite story, play a game, draw a picture, eat lunch or talk about problems or vacations. They can even bring friends.

"My thinking was that it would be good for them to come in to more or less establish a rapport with them, to talk to them, to let them know someone cares and to do some self-esteem building," said DeSimone.

She said it also helps her find out if the children have problems or interests their teachers should be aware of. She learned, for example, that one boy can easily rattle off the names of insects and animals because he enjoys nature programs. She'll let his teacher know, DeSimone said.

On Monday, Shawna Stepp, 6, a second-grader with an effervescent personality, discussed her vacation in Ocean City as she and DeSimone played a game of Monopoly Junior.

Memories of the scary ghouls she saw in the haunted house a few weeks ago at the Eastern Shore resort made Shawna decide to pass on buying the haunted house on the game board in favor of the video arcade.

After handily winning the game, Shawna went outside with DeSimone, grabbed a handful of colored chalk and sketched flowers and played tic-tac-toe until her mother arrived to pick her up.

Beth Stepp, Shawna's mother, said she put her daughter in the program because "she really misses school."

"I like to sort of give her different activities to do throughout the summer, things that will keep her busy," said Stepp, who runs a day care center in her home.

Moments after the Stepps left, Ken Slacum, a truck driver, arrived with his daughter, Alicia, 6.

Alicia, a blond second-grader, wore a green knit top with dark green floral shorts and blue sneakers. She doesn't talk much. But her blue eyes and the warm smile that spreads across her face say volumes as she builds her dream house using colored construction paper, glue and glitter.

It's just what she wants, DeSimone said: children spending time in the school during summer vacation.

Pub Date: 7/31/96

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