Counselor Profile: Dr. Alejandra Chavez-Stuart, Iron Horse Elementary

Counselor Profile: Dr. Alejandra Chavez-Stuart, Iron Horse Elementary
Posted on 01/16/2020
Counselor Profile: Dr. Alejandra Chavez-Stuart
Iron Horse Elementary

Called “Miss Ale” by her students, Dr. Alejandra Chavez-Stuart brings extensive education and experience to Iron Horse Elementary. Stacy Blaylock, Communications Coordinator, sat down with Dr. Chavez-Stuart to learn more about one of Douglas County School District’s newest school counselors.

What brings you to Iron Horse Elementary?

I’m following my dream! Ever since I started counseling I wanted to work with elementary students and I finally had the chance when I was hired by DCSD. Elementary kids are incredible. There’s so much growth and learning that happens with this age group -- they catch on so quickly! I love helping them build foundational skills that will help them become successful problem-solving adults.

You bring a doctorate degree with you to Iron Horse Elementary– what was your dissertation on?

I examined the transitional relationship of dogs from companions to co-workers and found that working with your dog creates a stronger relationship between human and canine.

Do you see many dogs at school?

Hah, no. My main reason for the doctorate was so I could teach at the masters-doctoral level. I still adjunct during the summer and mentor other counselors working towards their professional licensing. However, I do use my French bulldog, Pierre, as a teaching tool for the kids.
Happy Birthday Pierre

And how does Pierre help you teach?

Kids in this age group easily relate to animals, oftentimes better than an adult telling the same story. I have pictures of Pierre throughout my office and everyone’s heard about him. He used to be a bully and I use him as a way to talk about getting along with others and using nonverbal communication.

What were you doing before you came to Iron Horse Elementary?

Lots of learning! I completed my master’s degree in Texas in 2013, and moved right out to Colorado to earn my doctorate. When I arrived, I started student teaching other counselors at the master-doctoral level. While working on my degree I also worked on getting my licensure hours doing early childhood trauma counseling, then substance and domestic violence counseling. I really missed being in the school environment so I applied for a high school counselor job and got it! I did high school counseling for two years before landing my dream job. As much as I enjoyed the students I worked with, it was more meaningful for me to impact more of the student body -- something I could only do at an elementary school.

As you know, the 2018 Mill Levy Override (MLO) enabled DCSD to hire 80 new counselors, 40 of whom went to schools like Iron Horse Elementary that did not have counselors. What was it like for you to be part of that new development?

To me, new counselors in elementary schools represent meaningful progress, especially considering the people who came before me who so much spent time lobbying and advocating for early childhood intervention. It’s nice to know that all our hard work and everything we do is being recognized and valued. It’s like watching your kid go off to college. The field as a whole is moving forward. People have always understood the importance of mental health, but by spending time and resources on newcomers like me communicates a public commitment to our students.

What’s something you enjoy about DCSD?

Oh my gosh, I can’t even count the number of things that are amazing here! I’m blown away by the incredible support and encouragement I’ve received from the entire community. I hear “We’re so glad you’re here!” from students, parents, administration, other counselors, and the district. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so supported and encouraged. That’s what sets DCSD apart for me -- it’s a real community of love, support, and encouragement willing to address mental health issues.

What is something exciting you’re working on?

I’m working with the other counselors in the Legend Feeder to develop social-emotional transitional support for fifth-grade students entering sixth grade. We want fifth-graders to have the support and tools they need to feel more comfortable going into middle school. That could be knowing their new counselor better, connecting with a teacher, or something else. The details will come together as we move forward, but our team is committed to creating consistency between the schools. It’s like creating a common language and toolset for students to use as they move up.

Thanks for sitting down with me Dr. Chavez-Stuart!

Absolutely! I’m excited to be at DCSD and look forward to what we can accomplish for our students.
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