Counselor Profile: Kayla Knoll, Franktown Elementary

Counselor Profile: Kayla Knoll, Franktown Elementary
Posted on 01/16/2020
Counselor Profile: Kayla Knoll
Franktown Elementary

North Dakota native Kayla Knoll focuses on social-emotional learning for the 349 Franktown Elementary students. Stacy Blaylock, DCSD Communications Coordinator, sat down with Knoll to learn more about one of Douglas County School District’s newest school counselors.

What is like being the first counselor at Franktown Elementary?

It’s been wonderful! The teachers are great, the admin [team] is great, the kids are great. I remember the first couple of days the kids didn’t know who I was, so I was very determined to get started doing classroom lessons right away and trying to memorize their names. Now I’m getting waves and hugs from students everywhere I go!

I truly feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the students already. I make connections with kids pretty easy. That’s part of being a good counselor. It is very fulfilling for me to build those relationships.

What kind of programs are you doing with the students?

A lot of kids struggle with anxiety. To help, I’m facilitating multiple anxiety groups and also teaching social-emotional lessons in the classrooms. I am also doing a divorce group, multiple social skills groups, and a self-control group with many more groups to come. Many students visit me independently in my office, whether they need help with a problem, need to learn coping skills, or just need someone to talk to.

We also started a kindness program at our school. Once a month teachers pick students that they have seen demonstrate kind behavior. Those students get to have donuts and juice with me at the end of the month and also get their picture taken and hung on a bulletin board by my office. The teachers write a sentence or two on why they are chosen. We also have good behavior tickets. Staff can write them out for students or students can write them out for each other if anyone is caught doing kind things and showing excellent behavior. At the end of the week we draw tickets out and those students receive a prize. The students feel so proud of themselves when they receive a ticket.

Is there a grade you work with more than others?

Yes, I work with a lot of fourth and fifth-graders. It’s a tough time since they’re trying to prepare for middle school and are dealing with more responsibility. Their stress is high and I want to help them as much as I can before they leave for middle school.

What do you focus on with the fourth and fifth-graders?

I focus on social-emotional learning. We talk about numerous things such as handling stress, getting along with others, dealing with conflict, etc. Whatever skills they can learn now will help them in the future.

I’ve noticed that some students were unfamiliar with vaping and juuling, which is something that they will likely encounter in middle school. So I decided to start celebrating Red Ribbon Week school-wide just to foster awareness. The kids were very interested in the topics. I’m just trying to prepare them for what’s ahead.

What about the younger students?

I’m really big into instilling kindness in kids. Right now we are really focusing on feelings, which instills empathy. I like to remind them that we can always do something kind for another person. We have also worked on things such as being a good learner in the classroom. We are also talking about being a good friend to others. The challenge is that they have to practice, practice, and practice the skills we work on!

What were you doing before you came to Franktown Elementary?

I was living and working in North Dakota at two small rural schools outside of the Mandan-Bismarck area. I totally fell in love with the schools and the students there. There were about 300 students from kindergarten to twelfth grade. I worked with everyone!

What was the transition from North Dakota to Colorado like for you?

It was hard to leave. I really got to know the kids in my last schools and built strong relationships with them, especially when I watched them grow from kindergarten up through high school. Coming to Franktown Elementary was like starting over but once I was able to quickly build those relationships with the students at Franktown I felt so much better!

Knoll Family HikeWhy did you and your family make the move?

We’re mountain people. We love taking short weekend trips all over the state to go camping and hiking, which isn’t something you can do easily in North Dakota. After a month-long vacation of exploring Colorado about 5 years ago, we were already thinking of moving. Everything with DCSD just fell into place at the right time and I felt really good about it.

What is your favorite place to hike in Colorado?

There are so many! How do I choose just one? I absolutely love the beauty of the Maroon Bells and, as a family, we travel to Boulder, Breckenridge, Georgetown, Winter Park, Colorado Springs, and more. I can’t wait to explore more of the state.

Thanks for sitting down with me, Kayla! I hope the rest of the school year goes smoothly for you and that your family has some great adventures in the meantime.

Sure thing! I’m looking forward to everything that’s to come.
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