Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Rob Rhodes is an advocate for children. As Greenville County Schools Director of Counseling Services Rhodes leads school counselors, advises district administrators and supports principals in times of crisis, but the heart and soul of what he does is fight for students. “If we support the whole child socially and emotionally,” he says, “you remove barriers and give students the opportunity to pursue their dream, that is how you build a better graduate.” Rhodes was named School Counselor Advocate of the Year by the Palmetto State Counselors Association.
During his tenure Rhodes has worked to reduce the counselor/student ratio and develop partnerships with Piedmont Mental Health and Greenville Mental Health to place mental health counselors in all Greenville County Schools. Having those services available at school eliminates a transportation barrier faced by families. “When there is a continuum of care there is no ‘Did you go to your appointment?’ It is a safety net for kids whose parents are unable to get off work or find a ride.”
Rhodes has been an advocate for removing paperwork, testing and administrative responsibilities from school counselors so they can focus on “playing the unique role they are trained to do,” Rhodes says. “Counselors can connect to resources in the school and the community to bring out the positives and allow students to be their best. Counselors provide a safe space to talk to a caring adult and receive quality advice,” he says.
Rhodes’ department provides grief counselors for schools during crisis and sponsors the ACE awards for students who have overcome obstacles. Rhodes says counselors are a key component in school security plans. “Building relationships with students and families creates an environment of trust and safety in school. Students feeling celebrated and accepted and having a love for school, believing it is the best place they can go, is an important thing for safety,” he said.