Turtle Rock Counseling


turtle rock counseling program overview

Here at Turtle Rock Elementary, students have access to a full-time Elementary Resource Counselor (ERC). Our ERC works to provide a comprehensive school counseling program which seeks to promote the social emotional learning of your student to support the development of the mindsets and behaviors necessary for postsecondary success.


what is social-emotional learning?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. Irvine Unified School District is committed to embedding the CASEL 5 Social Emotional Competencies  within academic instruction so every student can increase prosocial skills, executive function capacity, empathy, and enhance higher level critical thinking skills.

what makes up a comprehensive school counseling program?

The Elementary Resource Counselor is able to provide a wide variety of counseling support for students at Turtle Rock. With the unprecedented challenges students have faced over the past several years, it is the counseling program goal to make all students feel welcome, respected and supported. Through a combination of Individual Counseling services, small groups counseling, grade level Lunch Bunch activities, school wide programs, and the consultation and collaboration that follows a school-family-community partnership, the ERC aims to implement a comprehensive school counseling program which improves student achievement and promotes student development.

mental health/wellness services and resources

The District provides school-based mental health/ wellness services and resources (www.iusd.org/WeCare or www.iusd.org/department/mental-health-wellness) to students and families. These services include short-term individual or group counseling for students at the school site; short-term, solution-focused therapy for students and families through the Irvine Family Resource Center; and resource linkages to community-based mental health or social services for students and families. Services are provided by counselors or licensed mental health professionals. 

second step

IUSD has selected the Committee for Children’s Second Step program (www.secondstep.org), grounded in extensive research and evidence-based criteria, as the curriculum for social-emotional learning (SEL) in our school district. It is taught in grade levels K – 8.  The Second Step Program is instrumental in strengthening the social-emotional skills of students by developing critical life skills that help students recognize and manage emotions, develop caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, CASEL).  We know that academic learning, combined with social-emotional learning, prepares students to be academically successful, healthy, develop good social relationships, and become engaged citizens (Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education, Columbia University, February 2015). To this end, we strive to prepare our students by teaching them foundational SEL skills from the Second Step program.

In this short video, the creators of SEL  show what social-emotional skills are and the important role they play throughout our lives.: The Importance of SEL

At Turtle Rock our students have access to social/emotional support from our Guidance Assistant (GA) and our Elementary Resource Counselor (ERC). These professionals work with large and small groups in the areas of classroom behavior, academic achievement, self-concept and social skills. The Elementary Resource counselor may also do short-term individual counseling and provide referrals for child/family therapy. To start the referral process for a student to receive services from the GA or ERC, a parent should speak with their child's classroom teacher.

Students are offered the opportunity to further practice SEL skills learned in the classroom in a smaller group setting. Students will meet with once a week for approximately 30 minutes one day a week for approximately 4 – 12 weeks. Every effort is made to meet with your student during non-critical teaching time. Parent/Guardian consent is required for participation in Second Step small group.

What Second Step lessons are taught in the classroom and small group settings?  

The Second Step program teaches skills in the following four areas:

  1. Skills for learning: Students gain skills to help themselves learn, including how to focus their attention, listen carefully, use self-talk to stay on task, and being assertive when asking for help.
  2. Empathy: Students learn to identify and understand their own and other’s feelings. Students also learn to take another’s perspective and how to show compassion.
  3. Emotion Management: Students learn specific skills for calming down when experiencing strong feelings, such as anxiety or anger.
  4. Problem Solving: Students learn a process for solving problems with others in a positive way.

meet our team

Hello and welcome to the 2022-2023 Turtle Rock school year! My name is Elena Perez, and I am your Elementary Resource Counselor. Students can call me Ms. Perez or Ms. P. As your Elementary Resource Counselor (ERC), I am here to promote social-emotional and mental health & wellness at Turtle Rock. Students are offered voluntary services that enrich student success by attending to challenges that can include school adjustment issues, stress, family change, grief, fears, or difficulties with relationships. ERCs are also here to provide resource linkage for families to further wrap around support for students.

A little bit about me:

Prior to becoming your Elementary Resource Counselor (ERC) I have been teaching Social-Emotional Lessons in IUSD elementary classrooms for 2 years! I speak Spanish fluently and am eager to learn more languages. Outside of school, I enjoy traveling; spending time with my friends and family; cuddling with my dog Arya; and watching documentaries and thriller films. Students are always welcome to stop by Room 2 to say hello or challenge me to a game of Uno at Lunch Bunch. Check out my Counseling Corner website for more information about my services and the Lunch Bunch schedule.

As always, remember that your voice matters and we are all here to help at Turtle Rock!

Elena Perez, M.S., P.P.S. (she/her/ella)

Elementary Resource Counselor