counselor and character coach at Westwood is in her 33rd year as an educator. Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she grew up working on a large family dairy farm, Barbara graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in English and Spanish. She began a Spanish Department in a small high school in central Wisconsin before heading to Texas in 1985. She taught Spanish and ESL classes at North Shore Middle School for a year before moving to FISD to teach Spanish and coach volleyball and softball at Friendswood High School.
Mrs. Gruener earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake in Education in 1989, followed by a Master of Science degree in Counseling in 1994.
After 16 years of teaching and counseling at the secondary level, Barbara decided to try elementary school and has found her niche as the counselor at Westwood.Barbara is a published author whose work has appeared in magazines such as Teaching Tolerance, Teaching K-8, and Daughters. In the Fall of 2000, Barbara became a certified trainer for Character Counts! and she enjoys presenting her high-energy workshop – Sing, Dance, Laugh, and Build Character – to share her ideas with other educators nationwide whenever the opportunity presents itself. In her spare time, Barbara likes to knit, bake, read, write, take long walks, visit with friends, and hang out with her family. She lives in Friendswood with her husband, John, and their three children.
Take Effective Action Against Bullying
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What Can Your School Counselor Do For You?
The following information provides a brief description of the main counseling services available at Westwood Elementary.
Curriculum – We are all learning to be Bucket Fillers at Westwood! Guidance lessons teach and model skills that complement the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. These interactive sessions are designed to reinforce the character values of the FISD Board-adopted Character Education Framework. Mrs. Gruener also schedules special assemblies throughout the year to enrich the material in these lessons.
Coordination – Mrs. Gruener coordinates activities for special events like the National Red Ribbon Campaign and Character Counts! Week. She also works with the PAL (Peer Assistance and Leadership) program to pair high-school-aged role models with students who might benefit from that extra connection and assists with service projects like our annual Santas for our Soldiers. Other programs that she helps coordinate include the Knitting Club service-learning group, the Buddy Backpack program, Principal’s Partners, Career Awareness Day, Family Character Night, and the Compliment Club. Mrs. Gruener also attends and leads PLC (Professional Learning Community) meetings as part of her leadership role with faculty and staff.
Consultation – Parents can make appointments with Mrs. Gruener to process an individual concern, normalize a behavior, or celebrate a success. Parent education materials are located in the Parent Resource Center to the back of the Character Court and available for check out to assist parents as they continue developing and refining their parenting skills. Mrs. Gruener serves as a behavior interventionist on our Problem Solving Team. Individualized behavior management plans will be developed for students who exhibit chronic behavior challenges and need additional assistance learning self-discipline and control. Behavior management plans are the result of the collaborative effort of the administrative staff, the teacher, the counselor, and the Problem Solving Team. Behavioral and Developmental screenings are also available through our counselor’s office as needed. Additionally, Mrs. Gruener keeps a wealth of up-to-date parenting information and resources on the school’s website.
Counseling – While school counselors are not therapists, they do work with students individually and in small-group sessions to assist them as they learn and practice life-long skills like working cooperatively, making friends, processing feelings, resolving conflicts, and solving problems. Referrals to visit with Mrs. Gruener can be initiated by a staff member, a parent, an administrator, or the student. Activity-based small-group counseling classes are offered by grade level in six-week sessions each semester. A list of area counselors, therapists and tutors is available upon request.
Volunteers are always welcomed; please let Mrs. Gruener know if you would like to be a part of the school counseling team!