John Muir Middle School Counseling Department

  • counseling graphic

    Welcome to the John Muir Middle School Counseling page! School Counseling is a developmental process in which one individual (the counselor) provides another individual or group (the student) with guidance and encouragement, as well as challenge and inspiration in creatively managing and resolving practical, personal, and relationship issues in order to help students achieve goals. School counselors focus on three main domains: Academic, Career/College, and Social-Emotional.



Counseling Staff

    Shana Duran All 6th Grade and 8th Gr last names A - L Only ext. 22861
    Ellen Huizar All 7th Grade and 8th Gr last names M - Z Only ext 22862
    Derek Starleaf LCAP ext. 22881
    Debbie Madigan Programs  ext 22852


    derek starleaf Hello and a big high five to everyone! My name is Derek Starleaf and this is my third year as a counselor at Muir. I have grown up in Burbank all my life and went to Jefferson, Muir and BHS so I have experienced both sides of the journey our students are on. I have been a teaching professional at the Burbank Tennis Center for 10 years and have seen many teachers and students enjoying the park or out on the court. My wife, Jade, and I love hiking in Wildwood Canyon or just hanging out with our Pug, Chloe, who bears a striking resemblance to E.T. and Yoda.



    ellen huizar Muir Mustangs! My name is Ellen Huizar and it's my 8th year as a school counselor at John Muir. I love being a counselor at Muir because I get to support students in so many different ways and see them grow so much from 6th to 8th grade. I am originally from Wisconsin and moved to California with my husband right after graduate school. Our family has since grown as we now have two kids and a dog. I love to hike, go to the beach, travel, shop and do DIY projects.



    shana duran Hello. My name is Shana Duran. I am the 6th and 8th A-L grade counselor at John Muir. I have been a counselor at John Muir for 18 years. I also worked at Burbank High School for a couple years as a Counselor. I started off my career as a Probation Officer. I have two teenage kids. My daughter is a freshman at the University of Arizona and my son is a junior in high school. I love being a counselor and working at John Muir.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When are counselors available?

    7:45 AM-3:00 PM. However, please call ahead to schedule an appointment so that the counselor is available. Counselors may be able to meet earlier or later to accommodate your schedule. Many questions can also be answered through email or over the phone.

    For students: The best times to visit the counseling office are before school, nutrition and after –school. You can also fill out a request to see your counselor and we will send a pass for you as soon as we can (usually during your elective class).

    Why would I contact my child’s counselor?

    In general, the counseling office is a great place to start for any kind of support for your child including academic, personal/social, and college and career counseling. Counselors work with students and families on a daily basis to ensure every student is successful. We often meet with students and parents about improving study skills, setting goals, mental health concerns, high school requirements, and friendship issues. Counselors also meet with students during the school day to discuss topics such as internet safety, bullying prevention, and being a catalyst for positive change on campus. Counselors run several programs on campus including Challenge Day and College and Career Club. Please contact us for any reason. If we can’t help you, we will direct you to the right person!

    How do I access my child’s grades online?

    Please contact the counseling office for the initial information that you will need to set up the account. Once you have set up your account you will able to access attendance and grades for your student. This is an AMAZING resource, don’t miss out!

    How do I communicate with teachers?

    You will find a staff contact list on the This will provide you with their phone extension and email. You can also email them directly from the online parent portal mentioned above. If you have previously contacted a teacher and would like to set up a meeting with them you can do that with the teacher or through the counseling office.

Role of a School Counselor

  • As school counselors, we work with students on an individual basis, in small groups and in their classrooms.  The focus of the counseling program is on academic skills, career awareness, and personal/social skills.  We also attend parent-teacher conferences at the request of the parent/guardian or teacher, as our schedule allows.

    Here are some reasons students might want to talk to the School Counselor:

    • "I had an argument with my best friend and she doesn't want to be my friend anymore."
    • "Some kids in my science class are talking about fighting after school."
    • "My parents argue all the time and I don't know what to do."
    • "My grandfather is really sick and I'm scared he's going to die."
    • "My mom just had a baby and she doesn't have time for me anymore."
    • "We're moving again!"
    • "My dad wants me to be an engineer like him, but I want to be a pilot."

    Here are some reasons parents might want to talk to the School Counselor:

    • "This is John's third school this year, and he's having difficulty adjusting."
    • "My husband is being deployed in two weeks and Carolyn may need some help coping with this change."
    • "Sam used to be excited about school, but lately he doesn't seem to care."
    • "My wife and I recently separated and our daughter could use some help understanding this."
    • "My son seems to be the target of some teasing and bullying after school.  Can you help?"

    Counselors Available By Appointment
    M-F from 7:45 a.m.-3:00 p.m

    Why Middle School Counseling?

    School Counseling has come a long way over the years.  Why is it critical for your middle school child to know who their counselor is?

    Middle school students are characterized by rapid physical growth, curiosity about their world and an emerging self-identity. Through a comprehensive developmental school counseling program, counselors work as a team member with school staff, parents and the community to create a caring, supportive climate and atmosphere whereby young adolescents can achieve academic success. Middle school counselors enhance the learning process and promote academic achievement. School counseling programs are essential for students to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set appropriate career goals and realize full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community. The professional middle school counselor holds a master’s degree and required state certification in school counseling. Maintaining certification includes on-going professional development to stay current with education reform and challenges facing today’s students. Professional association membership is encouraged as it enhances the school counselor’s knowledge and effectiveness.

    "Today’s young people are living in an exciting time, with an increasingly diverse society, new technologies, and expanding opportunities. To help ensure that they are prepared to become the next generation of parents, workers, leaders, and citizens”, every student needs support, guidance, and opportunities during adolescence, a time of rapid growth and change. Early adolescents face unique and diverse challenges, both personally and developmentally, that have an impact on academic achievement.

    Middle School Students’ Developmental Needs

    Middle school is an exciting, yet challenging time for students, their parents and teachers. During this passage from childhood to adolescence, middle school students are characterized by a need to explore a variety of interests, connecting their learning in the classroom to its practical application in life and work; high levels of activity coupled with frequent fatigue due to rapid growth; a search for their own unique identity as they begin turning more frequently to peers rather than parents for ideas and affirmation; extreme sensitivity to the comments from others; and heavy reliance on friends to provide comfort, understanding and approval.

    Meeting the Challenge

    Middle school counselors are professional educators with a mental health perspective who understand and respond to the challenges presented by today’s diverse student population. Middle school counselors do not work in isolation; rather they are integral to the total educational program. They provide proactive leadership that engages all stakeholders in the delivery of programs and services to help students achieve success in school. Professional school counselors align with the school’s mission to support the academic achievement of all students as they prepare for the ever-changing world of the 21st century. This mission is accomplished through the design, development, implementation and evaluation of a comprehensive, developmental and systematic school counseling program. The ASCA National Standards in the academic, National Model: A Framework For School Counseling Programs, with it’s data driven and results-based focus serves as a guide for today’s school counselor who is uniquely trained to implement this program.

    Middle School Counselors Implement the Counseling Program by Providing:

    School Guidance Curriculum:

    • Academic skills support
    • Organizational, study and test-taking skills
    • Education in understanding self and others
    • Coping strategies
    • Peer relationships and effective social skills
    • Communication, problem-solving, decision-making and conflict resolution
    • Career awareness, exploration and planning
    • Substance abuse education
    • Multicultural/diversity awareness

    4Individual Student Planning:

    • Goal-setting/decision- making
    • Academic planning
    • Career planning
    • Education in understanding of self, including strengths and weaknesses
    • Transition planning

    4Responsive Services:

    • Individual and small group counseling
    • Individual/family/school crisis intervention
    • Peer facilitation
    • Consultation/collaboration
    • Referrals

    System Support:

    • Professional development
    • Consultation, collaboration and teaming
    • Program management and operation


    Middle School Counselors Collaborate With:


    • Parent information nights
    • Communication/networking
    • Academic planning programs
    • Parent and family education
    • One-on-one parent conferencing
    • Assessment results interpretation
    • Resource referrals
    • College/career exploration


    • Career portfolio development
    • Assistance with students’ academic plans
    • Classroom guidance activities on study skills, career development, etc.
    • Academic support, learning style assessment and education to help students succeed academically
    • Classroom career speakers
    • At-risk student identification and implementation of interventions to enhance success
    • Parent communication/education


    • School climate
    • Behavioral management plans
    • School-wide needs assessment
    • Student data and results
    • Student assistance team building
    • Leadership


    • Peer education
    • Peer support
    • Academic support
    • School climate
    • Leadership development


    • Job shadowing, service learning
    • Crisis interventions
    • Referrals
    • Parenting classes
    • Support groups
    • Career education


    John Muir Middle School has 2 full time counselors to support students as they develop academic, inter-personal and intra-personal skills to be successful in school and throughout life.  Counselors work with students individually, in small groups and in the classroom to set academic and behavioral goals, create positive study habits as well as communication and problem solving strategies.  Counselors also share community resources with students and parents as well as information about college planning, academic intervention and adolescent development. It is our pleasure to serve the students and families in the Burbank Community!

    Phone: (818) 729 - 3800 

Last Modified on October 12, 2020