counseling1_700x400Academic and Personal Counseling

Each student is assigned a counselor for their four years at O’Dowd whom students and families are encouraged to utilize.

Academic counseling is grounded in consistent monitoring of student academic progress and includes:

  • Supporting course selection for graduation and college admissions
  • Facilitating academic issue resolution
  • Referral to Dragon Success, educational therapists, tutors and outside testing agencies
  • Monitoring academic jeopardy issues and facilitating resolution

counseling_groupPersonal counseling services include:

  • Individual or group counseling
  • Parent conferences and referral resources
  • Specialized support groups (i.e., cancer, stress, eating disorders, adjustment)
  • Information for students on topics related to mental health
  • Crisis intervention counseling
  • Drug and alcohol education, information and counseling for students and parents
  • Adolescent development education
  • Referral to in-house MFT for individual therapy

See below for staff contacts »

Academic Support

academic_support Bishop O’Dowd High School offers a layered system of resources and support, carefully designed and personalized to address academic support needs encountered by students during their time as Dragons. We believe that students succeed when they are supported by a collaborative program that includes structured communication between the home and school and a concerted case management approach involving all stakeholders: from teachers, to coaches, to academic support staff, and counselors. For more information on Academic Support programs, please explore the drop down menu below or contact Catherine Harris, Director of Academic Support.

Drop-In Tutoring

Drop-in tutoring provides academic support for all O’Dowd students free of charge. Drop-in tutoring is based in the Academic Support Center. The Center is staffed with trained peer tutors as well as an adult tutor. Review, test preparation, and time management help are typical activities for which drop-in tutoring can provide significant support. Contact Catherine Harris for more information.

SMART Sessions

SMART Sessions provide O’Dowd students help with identifying and resolving roadblocks to academic success. These sessions are subject specific, teacher-led study groups that meet before or after school and require the student to commit to a fixed schedule for the entire semester. Contact Catherine Harris for more information.

Catch-Up Support

The CUSP program is designed to provide academic support for students who have missed, or will miss, a significant amount of school due to a planned or unplanned absence. The program is designed to provide either pro-active or reactive support depending on the circumstances of the absence. Contact Malik McCord for more information.

Support for Student Athletes

O’Dowd’s student athletes have access to drop-in tutoring year-round. While in season, student athletes receive grade monitoring, communication home, and personal check-ins as needed. This helps students adhere to demanding practice schedules while meeting the academic rigor of our college preparatory curriculum. Contact Malik McCord for more information.

Peer Tutoring

Peer Tutoring connects students struggling with homework, projects, studying for tests, and understanding class concepts, with students who have been identified by teachers as knowledgeable, personable, supportive, and enthusiastic about learning. Our Peer Tutors have at least a B or better in their subject areas, and attend bimonthly trainings to more effectively tutor their peers. For more information, contact Mr. Damian Barnes.

Dragon Success

Dragon Success is O’Dowd’s academic coaching program for 9th and 10th graders. Students work closely with an academic coach who provides help transitioning into high school. Students work on goal setting, organizational skills, planning and time management, effective communication, and self-advocacy. Contact Malik McCord for more information.

Academic Coaching

Academic coaching is a program available to 11th and 12th graders by referral. Candidates come from the bi-weekly list of students at risk of academic probation. Students have access to an academic coach to strengthen organization, time management, self-advocacy, and study skills. Contact Malik McCord for more information.

Final Exam Prep

The Finals Prep Workshop is a two-day workshop and participation is limited to 9th and 10th grade students. Each student will prepare a study plan for the two weeks leading up to finals. This is a fee-based program. Contact Catherine Harris for more information.

Concussion Management

Students under a doctor’s care for head injuries will follow the protocol for “return to learn.” The protocol parallels the “return to play” for student athletes and is governed by the recommendations from the student’s medical doctor. Contact Malik McCord for more information.

Upcoming Events

Academic Support hosts family workshops and presentations throughout the school year. Please check the school calendar or announcements section on the Student/Parent portal for upcoming events.


Drop-In Tutoring Hours

Academic Support Center (back of library)
Mon – Fri 7:00 – 8:15 am (various subjects)
Mon – Fri 3:00 – 5:00 pm (various subjects)
Tuesday/Wednesday – Flex periods
Sat & Sun – TBD
CES1 Mon – Wed 3:00-4:30pm (various subjects)

Click here for a list of teachers and their hours in the academic support center »

Dragon Launch: Life Skills, College and Career Planning Program

How to shake a hand. How to make a good first impression. How to construct a proper, professional email. How to ask and answer interview questions. How to network. How to show my best self to the world .

These are a sampling of the questions Dragon Launch answers to ensure that upon graduation O’Dowd students will be prepared for life and poised for success.

Download the 2017 Senior College Planning Powerpoint »

What is Dragon Launch ?

In Fall 2017 the Counseling Department introduced Dragon Launch, a 4 year program that provides all O’Dowd students the opportunity to will explore their individual skills and begin to identify fields of interest and potential career paths. Key life skills are introduced so that by graduation, each O’Dowd student has the skills needed for success.

Each year, students discover a bit more about who they are and who they are becoming. Bishop O’Dowd High School’s integrated career and college curriculum which begins in the freshmen year guides students through the process of discernment that will lead to thoughtful choices regarding their future. O’Dowd uses Naviance, an online career and college program, that integrates students, parents and counselors into this process. Beginning in freshman year, students learn to access Naviance and begin the process of discerning who they are and who they want to become. Parents simultaneously receive access to the program and give their feedback. This process of discernment continues from freshmen through senior year.


The first year of Dragon Launch seeks to position each student for success through exposure to basic communication skills and the exploration of individual learning styles and strengths.

First Semester content includes:

  • Communication Basics: the importance of a strong first impression, how to shake a hand and how to write a proper email (link to video?).
  • Setting yourself up for academic success: All students complete the Naviance Learning Styles Inventory(do we want to add links to Naviance assessments?).

Second Semester content includes:

  • Naviance Strengths Explorer
  • Introduction to Constructing a Resume


During the sophomore year Dragon Launch has students further explore their interests and find strategies to best manage their increasingly busy schedules.

First Semester content includes:

  • Strategies for time management and setting priorities
  • Completion of and discussion about the Naviance Cluster Finder

Second Semester content includes:

  • Naviance Do What You Are assessment
  • Career and Industry Exploration
  • Introduction to resume writing
  • Basic professionalism and job search etiquette (done in partnership with Service Learning).


During the rigorous Junior year, Dragon Launch supports student development and discernment through exploration of individual interests and career exploration. All juniors will complete a resume and for motivated students interested in more in-depth industry exploration, work shadow visits opportunities are available.

First Semester content includes:

  • Introduction to career exploration through the Naviance Career Interest Profiler and other career exploration tools.
  • Career Day Interest Survey allows students to share their preferences for spring semester Career Day speakers.
  • Opt in resume workshops and work shadow opportunities

Second Semester content includes:

  • Career Day: On March 16, 2018 more than 50 speakers will present about their profession to small groups of interested juniors.
  • Completion of a resume using Naviance Resume Builder.
  • Job search strategies and job readiness
  • Introduction to the Senior Questionnaire


Senior Year:

Dragon Launch Offerings available to seniors include one-on-one meetings to discuss career interests, job search, interview preparation, resume writing and internship strategies.

First Semester offerings are optional for seniors.

  • MP Workshops
  • Senior Questionnaire wrap up
  • Resume writing and internship strategies
  • Work Shadow Visits: For students who have identified a field of interest, work shadow visits are scheduled individually, based on readiness and schedule.

Second Semester content includes:

  • Linked In Workshops: all seniors will have the opportunity to complete a LinkedIn profile prior to graduation.
  • Options offerings include:
  • Resume Writing
  • Personal Finance

Learning Disabilities and ADHD Services

At O’Dowd, we believe that intellectual and cognitive diversity enriches our campus community. We welcome students from a broad spectrum of learning profiles and provide resources that allow students to contribute fully to our school. The LD/ADHD services at O’Dowd are designed to support students with documented learning disabilities and/or attention deficit   through a team-based approach coordinated by a full-time specialized counselor. Contact Juliet Arechiga for more information.

View documentation LD/ADHD accommodations, requirements, and FAQs »

Academic & Personal Counseling Staff

Current student or parent? View counselor assignments »

Academic Support Staff