What is an Elementary Support Specialist (ESS)?

    Many parents and guardians wonder what the ESS does within the school. Most remember having a guidance counselor from their school years, but the role of the ESS, particularly in the K-5 school years, looks a little different than a traditional counseling role. The ESS divides time among many tasks in support of students. These primarily include individual and small group work with students, teaching social-emotional lessons in classrooms, connecting families with community resources, and collaborating with families, staff, and community members.

    Here at Discovery, we have a full-time ESS, Mrs. Ching, who is available Monday through Friday from 8:15am - 4:00pm and part-time ESS, Mrs. Wagner. Throughout the school year, your ESS will adjust the types of supports offered within the school to try to meet the needs of ALL Discovery students.


    Is an Elementary Support Specialist the same as a school counselor?

    Not necessarily. The Elementary Support Specialist team in the Mukilteo School District is comprised of school counselors, school psychologists and social workers. We are a unique group of professionals with a wide variety of educational training, work experiences and skill sets. However, our mission and vision are the same:

    "Our schools support the social and emotional development of the whole child by teaching universal positive building-wide strategies (PBIS), healthy interpersonal skills, emotional regulation, bullying prevention and personal safety. In addition, our schools provide targeted support based on individual student needs through thoughtful collaboration with staff and families. Intensive supports for students experiencing significant emotional or social deficits are provided through individual interventions and community resource connections."  

    Additionally, the services and interventions provided by the Elementary Support Specialists are informed and guided by Washington state's Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Standards and Competencies set by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). 


    What is social and emotional learning (SEL)? How is it taught at Discovery?

    "Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions." (CASEL) 

    As part of our work, the ESSs work alongsidge classroom teachers to deliver bi-weekly developmental social-emotional lessons in your child's classroom. Using evidence-based curricula such as Second Step and MindUp, we focus on topics like feelings/emotions, empathy, self-regulation, personal safety and kindness. Please talk with your child about what they may be learning during these lessons. You can also find more information about these SEL programs under the Family Resource tab.

    The ESSs also run small groups that dive more deeply into the topics students are learning about in class. We may also join students in their classrooms, at recess or in the lunch room to help them generalize the skills they have learned in group. 

    On a daily basis, the ESS will collaborate and consult with parents, teachers, and administrators. We work closely with parents, as needed, to support their child's ability to learn and be successful at school. The ESS's also consult with school psychologists, social workers, mental health agencies, and other individuals and organizations which are available in the community to support our students.

    In short, we are here to help!!