School counselor Tijuana Hudson, like most who pursue a career in education, hopes to positively impact students. A family-driven program through the Summit Education Center offers her the opportunity to foster the communication skills that help families grow.
The Family Tree program, facilitated by Hamilton-Guy Counseling, is a free program for Duncanville ISD students that is funded through the county and provides parenting tools for today’s families.
“We are able to show parents a new way of parenting which leads to better communication between families,” Cheryl Hamilton, Executive Director of Hamilton-Guy Counseling said.
The Family Tree program not only helps students work through their personal struggles, but it’s also an avenue for parents to receive support. Parents learn strategies and skills to help with their children, and are able to connect with other parents who are in similar situations.
“It’s one thing for me to be working with kids one-on-one while they are here, but we are sending them home every day,” Hudson said. “If we can’t get something fixed [at home], we are going to start this cycle over and over again.”
Many times students are ordered to have some type of counseling, but because of the cost, parents don’t always follow through. The Family Tree program allows students the opportunity to receive the counseling they need without causing a financial strain on families. Through the Family Tree program, students are also able to return to their normal routine sooner.
“When students complete the program, they are able to have some of their time at Summit reduced, which is what helps families take the steps necessary to get their kids there,” Hudson said.
In order to be considered for the Family Tree Program, students must be referred by their campus. Hudson said there is typically something underlying for students to participate in the program. When students act out, those are often the symptoms of a larger issue. The program helps with everything from truancy and drop-out risk to anger management and behavioral problems.
During the 2015-2016 school year, 18 students from Summit were referred to the Family Tree program. Hudson has seen many success stories come from these students. For some, being sent to Summit is the wakeup call they need to learn from a bad decision they made. By completing the Family Tree program, students are able to get back on the right path and correct the choices they have made.
Hudson saw a transformation in one student who completed the program last year. The student went from cursing at teachers every day to doing what was needed to return to her home campus.
“The outlet that she was able to get from being in the program, and the support her family was able to receive, did wonders for her,” Hudson said.
Although this student did have to return to Summit later in the year, she took responsibility for her actions. She admitted to what she had done – something she would have never done prior to completing the Family Tree program.
“She used profanity quite a bit when she came to Summit, but after she completed the program, I could see a difference in her,” Summit Education Principal Dwight Weaver said. “Her use of profanity slowed down. Her whole attitude changed.”
For the majority of the students, the Family Tree program allows them the opportunity to get back on track and not return to Summit.