Counselor Corner


Professional School Counselor

Mrs. Kristin Minkoff

(757) 850-5081


My name is Kristin Minkoff and I am the full-time school counselor here at Phillips Elementary School. This is my fifth year here at Phillips, and my twelfth year as a school counselor. I can’t wait to meet our new falcons and welcome back our returning falcons. As far as my educational background is concerned, I received my Undergraduate Degree in Psychology from The University of Mary Washington and my Master’s Degree in Counselor Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.

I'm looking forward to an awesome year with our students, staff, and families. I will be delivering at least 17 classroom guidance lessons to all classes, K-5 this year. The lessons will focus on academic, career, character education, and personal/social developmental needs common to all children. I also provide small group counseling services and individual counseling services to students in grades K-5. Parental permission is required for small group and consecutive individual counseling services. Furthermore, I also consult with teachers, administration, staff, and parents/guardians regarding helpful strategies for improving academic, behavioral, and/or social difficulties that students may be experiencing. If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding your child, please feel free to contact me at (757) 850-5081 or at

Kelso's Choices: Is it a BIG Problem or a small problem?

I started teaching students Kelso’s Choices 4 years ago when I began working at Phillips as the school counselor. We will continue with Kelso’s Choices this year. Kelso’s Choices help children learn how to solve small problems without asking for help from an adult or tattling.

The students and I discuss the difference between BIG problems, which are dangerous, scary, could hurt you, and are against the law, and small problems, which just annoy you and make you feel angry or sad.

We learn that BIG problems ALWAYS require the help of a big person - a grown up that you trust (ex: parents/guardians, teachers, school counselors, bus drivers, etc). You know it’s a BIG problem if you feel scared or don’t feel safe (ex: hitting, fighting, stealing, threatening others, etc.).

We also learn that students are strong enough and smart enough to solve most small problems by themselves without tattling, or asking adults for help. Small problems usually make us feel sad, mad, or annoyed (ex: someone touching our stuff, cutting in line, teasing us one or two times, bossing us around, etc.).

The magic question we should ask ourselves, and that adults can ask children when they are trying to solve a problem is, "Is what I am about to tell an adult a BIG problem or a small problem?" If it is a BIG problem, then you must tell a grown-up. If it is a small problem, then try to work it out on your own first by using at least two or three of Kelso’s Choices.

Students learn the correct versus the incorrect ways to use each one of Kelso’s Choices. They are instructed to try at least two or three of Kelso’s Choices first before going to an adult with a small problem. If they try two or more of Kelso’s Choices correctly, and they still have the problem, then they can seek help from an adult.


1. Go to another game- (if someone is cheating, or not playing fair, or being mean to you)

2. Share and take turns- (if you want to borrow something or vice versa, this includes sharing objects and people and their attention)

3. Apologize- (if you say something mean or do something mean to hurt someone)

4. Ignore it- (just look away and ignore it and don’t respond if someone is saying or doing mean things to you)

5. Tell them to stop- (ask them nicely to please stop what they are doing that is bothering you)

6. Walk away- (if the person won’t stop bothering you, walk away calmly)

7. Wait and cool off- (use strategies to calm yourself down when you’re angry or upset)

8. Talk it out- (Tell the person how you feel and talk about the problem with him or her calmly, respectfully, and privately.)

9. Make a deal- (Make a promise or a deal (that’s fair) that you can both agree on)

Mrs. Minkoff’s Marvelous Test-Taking Strategies:

1.) PAY ATTENTION in class & always ask questions if you don’t understand something.

2.) Write all of your teacher’s notes down in your notebook. Your notes should be NEAT and COMPLETE, and your notebooks should be ORGANIZED.

3.) On the night before the test, study hard and go to bed early (8:00 pm or 8:30 pm).

4.) On the day of the test, arrive to school on time or early, and eat a healthy breakfast.

5.) Listen very carefully when your teacher explains the directions. Make sure to also read ALL of the directions very closely and carefully.

6.) Take your time on the test. Don’t rush! Work at a medium, steady pace.

7.) Work hard, try your best, and never give up. Stay calm, relax, and believe in yourself too.

8.) Don’t get frustrated if you don’t know an answer to a question, just try your best.

9.) Don’t spend too much time on any one question. Think about what you know, use your strategies, and then choose the best answer and move on.

10.) Take brain breaks when you need them so you can clear your mind of stress and be positive.

11.) Sit up straight and focus and concentrate on the test. No daydreaming!

12.) Have a good attitude and think positive thoughts like, “I can do it. I know I’ll pass.”

13.) Slash The Trash: Cross off any answers that you know are wrong and don’t make any sense.

14.) Highlight key words and details in the questions, answers, and reading passages.

15.) READ and then REREAD all of the passages, questions, and answers very carefully before you choose your answer or answers.

16.) When you read a question, think about what the question is asking, & what skill the question is testing. Then use the strategies you’ve learned for that specific skill to answer the question.

17.) Try to think of what the correct answer is BEFORE you look at any of the answer choices. Don’t look at any of the answer choices until you’ve tried to solve the problem/question, or thought about the answer first.

18.) Make sure to always FIND your EVIDENCE/PROOF for all of the questions. Make sure to ANNOTATE, or show all of your work/proof, on your scratch paper.

19.) After you’ve answered a question, check over your work very carefully and closely.

20.) After you figure out the answer/answers, reread the question with the answer/answers in it in order to make sure that it makes sense and is correct.

How Can I Help My Child Succeed In School?

1.) Stay involved and feel free to contact your child’s teacher with any questions or concerns. Make sure to attend all parent-teacher conferences.

2.) Do not talk negatively about your child’s teacher or school.

3.) Make sure your child is getting plenty of sleep (10 hours a night) and is ready for school each day.

4.) Ask your child about school each day and encourage him or her to share what he or she is learning.

5.) Read with your child every night.

6.) Help your child with his or her homework every night, including studying for tests and completing projects.

7.) Teach your child to be responsible for his or her words, behavior, attitude, and schoolwork. Don’t allow him or her to make excuses.

8.) Make sure that going to school every day on time, working hard, and trying your best, is a top priority in your home.

9.) Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast every morning.

10.) Teach your child how to be organized and how to keep up with his or her school things.

11.) Encourage your child to always have a good attitude, to never give up, and to always complete all of his or her class work and homework to the best of his or her ability.

Created by Mrs. Minkoff, School Counselor J