The ICS counseling division is a hallmark feature that makes ICS a dynamic network of charter schools. Mental health and wellness have always been a primary focus of our mission, and we continue to provide the most qualified assistance to all of our students.
ICS counselors have created a safe space for students to express their needs, struggles, frustrations, and successes within all our schools. They have a proactive finger on the pulse of the schools and keep an open door policy.
Diane DiSalvo, LCSW, Director of Counseling Services at ICS, has been directly involved in the blossoming of the department as it continues to grow and thrive.
Our original school, Lavelle Prep, began with one counselor and today, ICS has eleven licensed mental health professionals, as well as a part-time psychologist.
“In keeping with the mission of ICS to welcome students with emotional challenges, we substantially increased our mental health resources and hired mental health professionals with previous experience working with youth and families. All counselors were hired from mental health agencies on Staten Island, so they not only have advanced clinical skills, but also know the various resources available to students and families in the metropolitan area”, DiSalvo said. “Additionally, our team is diverse, including counselors from various ethnic backgrounds, genders, Spanish speaking and one who has expertise working with LGBTQ youth,” DiSalvo continued.
The ICS Counseling Department also has Social Work, Psychology and Mental Health Counseling internship programs which host college interns throughout the academic year and summer months, further expanding our student support capabilities. We have internship agreements with The College of Staten Island, Columbia, NYU, Fordham, Brooklyn College, and Rutgers.
An exciting development has been the introduction of DBT to our schools. For the past two years, our counseling team and wellness teachers have collaborated with James and Elizabeth Dexter-Mazza, the authors of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills in Schools. “This is an adolescent skill teaching curriculum and not to be confused with formal therapy. These are skills anyone can use to manage emotions and stressful situations, self-regulate, problem solve and build positive relationships,” DiSalvo said. This work has been supported by a generous grant from the van Ameringen Foundation.
These skills, which include mindfulness exercises, are important for students to develop as they negotiate the increasing stressors facing all youth today and as they prepare for the rigors of college. “We hear stories of intolerance and discrimination, cyberbullying, aggression and street violence, depression and suicide, anxiety and substance use; our counseling team attempts to identify potential problems early, make comprehensive assessments and intervene quickly to solve the problem or link students and families to community agencies that can help. We encourage and welcome parents to take advantage of our support services, so we can partner together in helping their children overcome obstacles and reach their academic, social and emotional goals” DiSalvo said. “I would like students and parents to know that asking for support when it’s needed is a strength and not a weakness. It’s important to remember we all need support at different points in our lives and getting it early on can make the difference in setting the stage for future success and fulfillment”.
When asked what she likes best about working at ICS, DiSalvo said, “We have talented, compassionate and dedicated counselors who work closely with all our staff in keeping the student’s welfare and growth in mind. If I had to pick one thing, I’d say the best part of the job is watching our resilient students overcome obstacles and walk down the aisle for graduation. It’s actually very moving. I think I speak for all the counselors when I say it’s one of the highlights of our experience here”.
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Meet The ICS Counseling Team!
- Diane DiSalvo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Vice President of Mental Health at Integration Charter Schools. She joined ICS in 2015 coming from South Beach Psychiatric Center where she was the Chief of the Children and Youth Service overseeing their inpatient services and adolescent day treatment program. As a therapist and supervisor, Diane has over 30 years experience working with children, youth and families in a variety of treatment settings.
- Priscilla Chen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who joined the counseling team in 2016 coming to ICS from The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services on Staten Island where she was a clinical supervisor and therapist providing assessment and clinical services to adolescents, young adults and families. Priscilla is the Assistant Director of Counseling, the coordinator and co-supervisor of the ICS Social Work Internship Program and our McKinney Vento liaison, providing linkages to our ICS families who are homeless or displaced.
- Max Moran is a bilingual Licensed Master Social Worker who joined ICS in July 2018. He is currently a clinical supervisor within the ICS Counseling Department and co-supervisor of our Social Work Internship Program. He has provided treatment and assessment of adolescents and families at Staten Mental Health Society and the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. He is a founding member of the organization “Voices of Youth”, committed to the advancement of Youth Voice in the Child Welfare System.
Lavelle Preparatory Elementary Division
- Catherine (Katie) Ratel is a School Psychologist who completed her psychology internship in Lavelle Prep high school division in 2019. She joined Lavelle Prep Elementary Division in 2020. Katie has previous experience at A Friendly Face Agency, working with children on the Autism Spectrum and providing parental support.
- Marc Rivera is a Licensed Master Social Worker who joined our Lavelle Prep Elementary Division in 2021. Marc has experience as a school counselor, working with a diverse range of students with mental health and learning disabilities. He has experience using play therapy with younger students. He worked at the Children’s Aid Society on Staten Island providing family therapy and skills training for parents.
- Jasmine Velez-Murphy is a Licensed Master Social Worker who joining our Lavelle Preparatory Elementary Division in 2021. Jasmine has experience working with children, youth and families in a variety of mental health and school based settings, including at Staten Island Mental Health Society, The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services and Children’s Aide Society.
- Soraya Gildewell is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who joined our Lavelle Prep Elementary Division in 2022. Soraya has experience in a variety of settings, working with children, youth and families at Staten Island Mental Health Society, as a school social worker across a diverse age range of students and working in the foster care system providing trauma informed care.
Lavelle Preparatory Middle School Division
- George Torres is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who joined our Lavelle Prep middle school team in September 2018. George has worked at Seamen’s Society for Children and Families and at Staten Island Mental Health Society with adolescents and families. George was part of the Mayor’s office initiative on Combating Violence in the community.
- Cali DeBrowner is a Licensed Master Social Worker who completed her social work internship in our Lavelle Prep High School Division in 2020. She joined our middle school counseling team in 2021. Cali has experience working at the “Steps to End Family Violence” agency out of the Staten Island Family Justice Center.
- Margarita (Rita) Sionova is a bilingual Licensed Master Social Worker who joined our Lavelle Prep Middle School Team in 2022. Rita has previous experience working with youth and families at the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services, Maimonides Hospital and providing supportive counseling to victims of domestic and crime violence through the Kings County Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
Lavelle Preparatory Highschool Division
- Laruren Capalbo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who joined our Lavelle Prep High School team in 2021. Lauren has experience working in a variety of settings including as a juvenile rights advocate and counselor at “Getting out and staying out”, working with male youth involved in the criminal justice system to find future pathways to success through education, emotional support and employment.
Nicotra Early College Charter School
- Frank Manzo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who joined our Nicotra Early College team in 2021. Frank has experience working with youth and families in a variety of mental health and addiction settings, including as a therapist and clinical director at Jewish Board.
- Marigrace Guce is a Licensed Master Social Worker who joined the ICS counseling team in September of 2022. She is currently working in the Nicotra Early College program Marigrace comes to us from Staten Island Mental Health Pouch Center where she worked closely with children and youth on the Autism Spectrum. She has a wide range of experience working in early childhood interventions and trauma informed care.
- Yazmin Perez is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who joined our Counseling team in October of 2022. She is working in our Nicotra Early College program. She comes to us from the Jewish Board with extensive experience as a clinical supervisor, case manager and therapist working with adolescents and families.
Richmond Preparatory Charter School
- Shannon Crisalli is a Licensed Master Social Worker who completed her social work internship in the Lavelle Prep Elementary Division in 2018. She joined our counseling team in 2019 working in both elementary and our middle school divisions. She is currently the founding counselor for our newest school, Richmond Prep. Shannon has previous experience at On Your Mark on Staten Island, working with students with developmental disabilities and special needs.
- Derek Louie Is a Licensed Master Social Worker who joined our Richmond Prep counseling team in August 2022. Derek has experience working with children, youth and families providing therapy, case management and risk assessment services. Derek also brings experience working with the Autism Spectrum population at Eden 2.
New Ventures Charter School
- Mark Simeone is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who joined our New Ventures team in 2021. Mark has experience working with youth, adults and families in a variety of clinical settings including The Society for Seaman’s Children, New York Foundling and Integrity Services. Mark has experience providing and supervising counselors in the area of domestic violence.
- Stephanie Velonis is a Licensed Master Social Worker who joined our New Ventures team in 2021. Stephanie has experience working in prevention and intervention for the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services, working with high school students in a school based program. She also provided support services to clients in her work at the Staten Island Legal Aide Society.