Position: Adjustment Counselor
School: Somerset Berkley Regional High School
School District: Somerset Berkley Regional School District
City, State: Somerset, Massachusetts
About the Nominee: Ann Nassiff was nominated by her principal, David Lanczycki.
Every school has those people who make the school a place that students want to be at. These people create a safe haven, and even more importantly, a home. Somerset-Berkley Regional High School is blessed to have its own beacon of light, Ann Nassiff.
As the school adjustment counselor, she provides counseling for students and families dealing with a wide variety of issues such as mental illness, social issues, family/peer conflict, foster care/homelessness, and other, sensitive topics. Mrs. Nassiff collaborates with families, administration and teachers to tackle issues affecting students in the classroom such as academic failure, absenteeism and school phobia/avoidance. In her role, she works with economically challenged families and provides support through a food pantry that she runs out of her office. She also organizes the school gift drive which provides presents for families in need during the holidays.
As the Intervention Team Leader, Mrs. Nassiff reviews each at-risk student and develops interventions that are designed to meet their individual needs. Her concern for students’ well-being manifests itself by referring students for mental health services, including school/agency based mental health therapy, level of care assessments and in-patient/ outpatient hospital programs. She is also responsible for filing 51-A's and regularly communicating with DCF social workers, outside therapists, psychologists and other hospital staff, case managers and tutors in order to ensure the safety of all students. Her position means she consults with administration, teachers, parents/guardians, school nurses, special educators, paraprofessionals and even cafeteria workers in order to gain a full perspective of the whole child. She also coordinates the school’s home/hospital tutorial program and attends IEP and 504 meetings.
Throughout the years, she has also developed a freshmen transition program. A major component of this is the "Big Buddy" program whose purpose is to address the needs and concerns of incoming ninth graders. This program helps build a sense of community and connectedness between the freshmen and their new school, and it helps to prepare them for the demands of high school life. The "Big Buddies" are upperclassmen who volunteer their time to be role models for others. Mrs. Nassiff is also the creator and adviser for the Anti-Bullying Coalition (ABC), an organization that provides school presentations for elementary- high schools. She is also the advisor for the Gay-Straight Alliance to raise awareness and provide support for the school’s LGBTQ community.
These are just a few of the roles that Mrs. Nassiff plays, but it is the undocumented interactions with students that are her greatest accomplishments. Students seek her out for support, whether they need a smile to get through the day or a warrior to fight for their needs. Mrs. Nassiff is a champion for her students. Principal Lanczycki says he could not lead the school without her, and that she is the heart of the school!