DHS Mental Health & Wellness Supports

School Counseling Department

The school counselors' primary goal is to help students understand themselves so they will make informed decisions regarding their present and their future. In addition to meeting with students individually, the school counselors use a seminar model to meet with grade levels of students.  Counselors can help students navigate a wide range of social and academic challenges, including through individual or team meetings, referral to the Student Assistance Team or Student Intervention Team, and introduction to DHS School Psychologists, School Social Worker, and Connections Counselor.

Visit the DHS School Counseling Department website for more information!

Administrative Assistants:

Laura Hyatt: lhyatt@darienps.org  x2226

Leslie Lajoie; llajoie@darienps.org  x2249

Ann Branca


x. 2330

Deb Chase


x. 2290

Meghan Emanuelson


x. 2306

Allison Longfellow


x. 2241

Lisa Messineo


x. 2288

Marc Power,


x. 2220

Dr. Kaitlin Stanton,


x. 2347

Peter Trombley


x. 2370

Cathy Ostar, Director of School Counseling


x. 2498

School Psychologists

School psychologists at the high school work with students experiencing problems that may interfere with achievement of educational or personal goals. School psychologists are available to meet with students regarding situational problems or when help is needed managing crises.  Students or concerned parents may make an appointment directly with the school psychologists or through the guidance department/school counselor. A member of the professional staff may also refer a student. Following referral, the school psychologist schedules one or more meetings with the student to examine the difficulties and explore with the student possible solutions. The school psychologist may help students/families access outside agencies or professionals and referrals to various teams (SIT, SAT) within the building may take place. 

Taylor Bonano

tbonano@darienps.org, x. 2327

Grade 12

Lara Dower

ldower@darienps.org, x. 2354

Grade 10

Dr. Jenna Poulos

jpoulos@darienps.org, x. 2333

Grade 9

Stacy Shah

sshah@darienps.org, x. 2312

Grade 11

Dr. Taylor Kurtz

tkurtz@darienps.org, x. 2804

Fitch Academy grades 9-12

Sam Parton, School Social Worker

sparton@darienps.org, x. 2557

School Social Worker

The school social worker is available for consultation regarding personal, family, or school problems and when appropriate will facilitate referral to other community resources. The social worker meets with students both individually and in small groups to address personal issues as they relate to educational success. The school social worker makes home visits to improve a student’s attendance, offers support to parents to resolve conflicts, and is available for consultations regarding links to other agencies. 

Connections Counselor

Joyce Sixsmith, Connections Counselor

jsixsmith@darienps.org, x. 2526

Joyce brings her expertise in counseling students with substance issues and those whose family members have substance use issues. She also facilitates the Blue Wave Council, a group of students dedicated to substance-free living!

Wellness Center Coordinator

Judy Phillips, Wellness Center Coordinator

jphillips@darienps.org, x. 2604

Judy Phillips, Wellness Center Coordinator

more information coming soon!

Teen Talk Counselor

Ashley Lopez

alopez@darienps.org, x. 2606

Ms. Lopez is a licensed social worker who joins DHS in collaboration with Kids in Crisis. The Teen Talk Counselor offers one-on-one and group counseling to teens struggling with anxiety, depression, family conflict, academic issues, grief/loss, substance  issues, abuse/neglect, justice involvement, and lack of basic needs. Ms. Lopez 

Immediate Community-Based Resources

We understand that this period of change and uncertainty could cause young adults to feel particularly stressed, frustrated, or sad. We want to make you aware of our school-based and some community-based resources that you could access if you feel your child may require mental health support. Below are contacts that could be of help during this period. 

Additionally, the town of Darien has published a Mental Wellness video series featuring local professionals addressing a wide range of topics, including family mental health and supporting teenagers at home. Those videos are accessible on the Darien TV79 website

Community Mental Health Supports 2020