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North Texas counselor creates 'emotional locker' for students

Going to the school counselor can be awkward or embarrassing for kids. That's why a North Texas educator created a special locker to help with the process.

SEAGOVILLE, Texas — Going to the school counselor can be awkward or embarrassing for kids. 

That's why Ashley Williams is putting a twist on how she interacts with her students at Central Elementary School in Seagoville.

"I wanted to find a new way to allow kids to get in contact with me," Williams said. She was a teacher for 13 years before becoming a counselor this fall.

Williams created what she calls an "emotional locker." If you walk down the main hallway at Central Elementary, you'll notice one locker stands out from the rest, with the title "Counselor Williams' Mailbox."

Credit: Jay Wallis
Ashley Williams opens up her locker every school day, seeing what her kids need to talk about.

"I was just rummaging through some things," Williams said, talking about one time when she was at Hobby Lobby this past summer. "I saw a mailbox, and I thought, 'How cool. I could put it outside my door.'"

The way this locker works is simple. If a student has something they need to talk to Williams about, they can fill out a note and drop it in the locker. No one opens this locker or reads these notes — except for Williams. 

The conversation can start with a pencil and paper.

"All they have to do is just tell me their name, the date, and who their teacher is so I know where to find them," Williams said.

Credit: Jay Wallis
While there is only one mailbox this fall semester, Williams said she wants to add more lockers in different hallways next year.

The students also write if they are having a small, medium or big problem, to help Williams know how quickly she needs to talk to the student.

"It's amazing what the kids actually go through that parents don't even know about," Williams said. "A lot of my students, when I ask if they've told their mom and dad, they say, 'No, I don't want to burden them.'"

The only way the information goes beyond Williams is if a student is going to cause harm to someone or someone is hurting that student.

Serenity Dillard is a fifth-grader who has used the locker before when she was dealing with a problem outside the classroom. She said she could see herself using it again.

Credit: Jay Wallis
Serenity Williams said using the emotional locker gives her "a really calming feeling."

"First, I was nervous," Dillard said. "After you're done, it's actually really calming to know that it's off your chest and you talked about it."

While there is only one locker at the school this semester, Williams plans to add a couple more lockers in different hallways in the spring.

"I want everybody in the entire school to feel comfortable using this, no matter their grade," Williams said.

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