School support staff include a variety of staff members who provide specialized instructional support as well as support to students while they utilize school facilities.
School support staff play an important role in ensuring students are learning in a safe and supportive learning environment. They can foster positive, trusting relationships with students and improve school climate by encouraging parent and family involvement in education. Because students connect with school support staff on many occasions throughout the school day, support staff can model positive behavior and send positive messages to students.
Specialized instructional support staff includes guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and school nurses. Staff members usually have vast community networks and strong collaborations with external stakeholders whom they may enlist in order to help teachers and other staff members provide resources to students. Often, specialized instructional support staff members hold advanced training or degrees in counseling and can provide training to teachers, staff, and families that will foster a caring school climate.
School support staff members such as guidance counselors, school resource officers, nurses, social workers, and special education aides play critical roles in helping students acquire the resources they need to achieve academically. In particular, they can link students to special services when issues interfere with academic learning.
Specialized instructional support staff and other personnel, including food service, building services, and other school support staff also frequently mentor students in their buildings. In this role, they are able to build trusting relationships with students and help to connect them with others in and outside the school. In addition, positive messaging goes beyond what is posted on bulletin boards in the hallways. Support staff and school personnel can all effectively create a caring learning community, inside and outside the school, through modeling positive behaviors. When staff members' actions are consistent in the school building, throughout the district, and in the community, they are acting as role models not only to students, but to their families as well.
Ray, S. L., Lambie, G., & Curry, J. (2007). Building caring schools: Implications for professional school counselors. Journal of School Counseling, 5(14).