School counselor creates ‘virtual classroom’ to help students


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – One of the most valuable parts of counseling is face-to-face interaction. While, that’s not possible now due to COVID-19, one middle school counselor has found a way unique way to stay connected.

Sixth-grade Counselor Magri Orris may be working from home, but, these days, she’s still feels a bit lost.

“Oh man. It’s just uncharted territory. As far as my one-on-one – my office at school – there’s a kid in there almost all day long you can find a kid in my office,” Orris said.

She’s in the middle of week two of no school, which, when you have a job dealing with students, makes it all the more challenging.

“We would talk to a student in the hallway or get a phone call from a parent and being able to relay that message was pretty easy,” Coordinator of Student Support Services for the Sioux Falls School District Patti Lake-Torbert said.

With schools out due to COVID-19, it’s made things not only tough for them, but students too.

“Because they’re all still on social media; That age is so much about peers and so much about friends and where they fit in in that social hierarchy,” Orris said.

Orris has developed a ‘Virtual Classroom’ for her students. It allows students to book counseling appointments through zoom, and connects them with resources to help with self-esteem.

“I do have what’s called a ‘Zen Den,’ so just different, like, mindfulness, meditation, different things for parents and students,” Orris said.

While the focus is primarily on the kids, she wants to keep parents in the loop also.

“Getting ahold of the families. We talk a lot about the students but quite a bit of this is about the whole family,” Lake-Torbert said.

“And we’re all very willing to share our resources and our knowledge and I think that just kind of combining those things,” Orris said.

Showing that even through great distance there’s always positive ways to connect.

“I think, just that smiling face and even if that smiling face just happens to come back on a website that they can see, it makes a world of difference,” Lake-Torbert said.

You can find plenty of resources on her website.

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