Rise Above: Our On-site Counselor

“If you look at the population of kids who we are dealing with, it’s obvious that they have some challenges outside of academics... whether it’s [the need for] validation, whether it’s love, whether it’s support - all of those things that I am not getting at home, I’m going to be focused on getting at school, which might not necessarily be effective for my education or effective for me completing academic work. And so having somebody that at least can pay attention to that in a very intentional way, I think that’s beneficial.”  

- Edwin Payne, On-Site Counselor

Unlike many alternative schools, Rise Above has a licensed professional counselor on staff that meets with each student weekly. The leaders of Rise Above have a specialized focus on helping students reach a healthier place not only academically, but also emotionally and relationally, so allowing a space for students to share what is going on in other areas of their lives is a very important part of that process.

In his sessions with students, Edwin looks to give each student skills to cope with whatever social or emotional challenges they might be facing. “I try to help them see who they are in a different light. And then I try to help them see where they could do things differently, that might be more healthy or more beneficial to them… The framework is the same, but the way of going about doing it is different [for each student].”

Edwin's professional training and experiences include mental health services as well as community development. With a big heart for helping people in hard situations, he seeks to bring encouragement and hope to this population through counseling. “I feel like if I can build relationship, even if they don’t get the skills, that relationship itself serves as a buffer to some of those challenges and it helps them kind of figure themselves out, which is more important in the long run.”


“I like counseling sessions. Mr. Payne is super cool, serious but not super serious. He’s a good person to talk to and he does his job the right way.”

  • Current Middle School Student

“I think [Mr. Payne] is a very good counselor. He will take the time to get to know people better, he will definitely spend as much time as needed with any student. He knows how to deal with things the right way... I would definitely say if there’s ever any time a student needs to talk to someone, there’s always someone available.”

  • Current High School Student

“Mr. Payne has helped a lot with my depression. He’s given me really good advice… It has helped me in coming out of my shell a little more.”

  • Current High School Student

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