Ms. Elektra Thompson, a Chicago native, uses her technology background and counseling skills to empower her students for success. Ms. Thompson graduated from Northern Illinois University (N.I.U.) with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems. She relocated to Georgia after her college graduation. Ms. Thompson decided to focus on her passion for helping children. She spent several years volunteering at one of Atlanta’s largest non-profit organizations, focusing on children 9 to 14 years old. After attending graduate school in Georgia, she started working as a professional school counselor. The middle school years are a very important transition period for students. Elektra noticed a common theme with her students. She realized they needed help with studying, organizing, approach to learning, and prioritizing tasks. This prompted her to think of a practical approach for helping the students solving their problems.
How did you decide to go into counseling?
After working in corporate America for five years, I decided to study elementary school counseling in graduate school. I became interested in counseling while volunteering at one of Atlanta’s largest non-profits. I have been volunteering since high school, and I have a passion for working with children 9 to 14 years of age. This age group is honest, candid, and are receptive to learning new skills.
How did the S.O.A.P. Book come about?
My current school gives me a little more flexibility to take a deeper dive with my students and get to the root of their concerns. I created a small group of 8 to 10 students for observation. I noticed the students were stressing out, cramming for tests, and exhibiting signs of anxiety because they did not have the tools to be successful. Their parents gave consent for their students to take part in the S.O.A.P. program. I also hosted a two and half-hour workshop for the parents to discuss the S.O.A.P. book and suggestions on how they could support their children during the process. After speaking with the parents, I noticed better results with the kids. The workshop helped get everyone on the same page; this was a vital piece of the puzzle.
What are some common themes of the book?
The S.O.A.P. book focuses on study skills, organization, approach to learning, and prioritization. During my work as a counselor, these were the most repetitive themes. I realized the students needed extra support in these areas.
What made you decide on the comic book layout?
The comic book layout came after thinking about my learning style. I am a visual learner; it was essential to have vibrant colors and brown characters that looked like them. The illustrations and images were intentional because representation matters. I thought it would be more effective than a standard black and white textbook. I also thought a graphic novel would resonate with both students and parents. I was able to incorporate my technology background by including Q.R. codes that link to additional resources.
How has COVID affected your students?
During the quarantine, I had to find new ways to support the students. I noticed the students needed more help with notetaking. I also had more dialogue with parents to help them navigate through the e-learning environment. I also suggested the parents schedule everything, including times for school, extracurricular activities, and family time.
What other areas do you think need more attention?
The students could use more help with notetaking, organizing, and time management skills. Note-taking is a skill that should include organizing the notes with a date, title of the lesson, and detailed subject matter. I always suggest the students rewrite the notes after class and use the rewritten notes while studying.
Ms. Thompson is an enthusiastic professional who uses her skills to develop programs and outlets for young people. Her goal is to create independent and respectful students who can advocate on their own—the S.O.A.P. book is written from the perspective of a school counselor, which is unusual. Ms. Thompson sees the world with a special perspective which helps her focus on the skills needed to help young people across the country through counseling and education. She is willing to think “outside the box” when it comes to reaching the goals of real change with her students. This book is very engaging, insightful, interactive, and explores challenges that real middle school students face. Ms. Thompson explains the student’s issues, how to support them, and notes the positive results along the way. Elektra Thompson, Ed.S., N.C.C., currently resides in Atlanta, GA, with her family. For more information on the S.O.A.P. book, check out https://useyoursoap.square.site or follow Ms. Thompson on social media @couregeouscounseling
Theresa Horton is a contributing writer for the Chicago Defender. Find her on social media @passionateresources.