"Dr. Director"
By Joyce E. Pennington

Each of us as directors and advisors play a most important role behind the scenes that usually requires a Ph.D.  We must realize when our students have problems, we should analyze the cause and offer the counseling that will plant the seed for the best solution.  Many times our counseling spills over to their families when parents seek our opinion and judgment on important matters involving their daughter or son.  A directors training should include support in psychology and counseling to better prepare us for these challenging times.

The nineties have brought some very complicated issues for teenagers and their families: drugs, alcohol, permissiveness in sex, unwanted pregnancies, jobs, financial problems, child abuse - both physical and mental... and the list goes on.  Teenagers have more complicated and demanding roles of decision making than what most of us experienced in high school.  

It would seem simple to turn our backs and ignore their subtle cries for help. Yet, we may be the only target that receives the directed signals.  The student may be breaking rules to gain our attention or just having a difficult time concentrating in class.  

Bear in mind, our students involved in extra - curricular activities are with us (as directors) more hours each week than most of them spend actively with their parents.  We see a side of them that their parents may not.  They look to us as their ideals and pattern their lives after many of the things we do.  It is imperative that we take great pains to act carefully and know that we are constantly being watched.  We must be their guide both physically and mentally.

When you detect the signal that something is wrong - a mood or personality change or despondency, take the time for a few personal words.  You cannot make them feel threatened or trapped.  The most effective beginning should be a few positive words to let them know that you detect a change or problem and that you are their friend and confidant.  This will be the seed that might be a bright beginning for a troubled student.  The same door can be opened for troubled parents as well.  Our step of concern may be an all important move that may even save a life.  We may not have a shingle outside our door nor a Ph.D. by our name, but we do have a responsibility as a director or advisor to do more than instruct or critique.  We must lend our time and our heart along with our best moral and ethical advice to touch these teenage lives and lead them in a positive direction.  We must also be a role model and plant the proper footsteps for them to follow.  Our salaries will never reach that of a doctor but our "healing" hands and heart will find the way to direct many young souls.


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