Counselor's Corner » Counselor's Corner

Counselor's Corner

Hello and Welcome to the counselor’s corner.  My name is Merika McHugh and I am thrilled to be the new counselor at Alta Vista Elementary. A little about myself, I grew up overseas in Singapore and moved to Los Angeles to attend Loyola Marymount University. I received my bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in School Counseling with a Pupil Services Credential from LMU. I now live in Redondo Beach with my husband Mike and our two children Brendan and Molly.  When I am not working I love cooking for friends and family, going for long runs with my dog Sam and relaxing with a good book at the beach.


Prior to joining the Wildcat team, I was a high school counselor in Palos Verdes for 14 years helping teenagers navigate high school and discover their post-secondary paths. While I enjoyed working with teenagers, I am excited about this opportunity to work with our youngest learners.  I am looking forward to getting to know all the students, staff, and families at this wonderful school. 


If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me.


Thank you!

Mrs. McHugh



Project PAL is designed to serve the needs of all children at each stage of their development. Many children today face complex societal pressures and changes within their family structure. As a result, children bring many issues and concerns to school with them. A troubled child may experience difficulties learning.
Providing counseling services at the elementary level promotes developmental and preventative interventions that help guide children to success at school. To better serve students, elementary counselors will consult with teachers and parents to coordinate efforts within the child's total environment. I will also work closely with the students to help them better understand themselves and others. Children will be encouraged to make choices and decisions that will lead to positive outcomes in their lives.
Mission Statement
Utilize a developmental, preventative curriculum that will increase the resiliency of all students, enabling them to be productive learners and to develop skills necessary to achieve lifelong health and happiness.

Academic Development Goals

  1. Students will acquire the attitudes, knowledge and skills contributing to effective learning in school.
  2. Students will complete school with the academic preparation essential to choose from a wide range of substantial post-secondary options.
  3. Students will understand the relationship of academics to the world of work and to life at home and in the community.

Social Development Goals

  1. Students will acquire the attitudes, knowledge and interpersonal skills to help them understand and respect themselves and others.
  2. Students will make decisions, set goals and take necessary action to achieve goals.
  3. Students will understand the sensitivity to our diverse society and celebrate the value of each individual they meet.

Project PAL Services

  1. Classroom Based Instruction - Counselors visit classrooms and help students build a variety of mental-emotional and social skills, such as coping with stress and solving problems.
  2. Individual Counseling - Counselors work with individual students in a confidential setting in order to help them better understand their feelings, attitudes, concerns and behavior. A unique relationship is established between the counselor and the student, built on respect and trust.
  3. Group Counseling - Counselors work with small groups of students who are experiencing shared concerns or developmental difficulties in areas such as interpersonal relationships with peers or adults, school attendance, academic achievement, or coping with life changes such as grief and loss.

 Referrals - Counselors sometimes refer students and families to outside professionals to help meet their specific needs


Need a referral to Mental Health and Wellness Services in our community?

Need to make a referral for your child to see the counselor?

Please use the below link to submit an electronic referral form.  (Hardcopies of this referral form are also available in the main office)





Interested in learning more about the Safe School Ambassador Program? Go to,


MindUp is a comprehensive, classroom-tested, evidence-based curriculum that fosters social and emotional awareness, enhances psychological well-being and promotes academic success. MindUp helps to create an optimistic classroom that promotes and develops mindful attention to oneself and others, tolerance of differences and the capacity of each member of the community to grow as a human being and learner.


How Does MindUp Work?

The essential work of MindUp is accomplished through classroom guidance lessons; which include the repetition of the Core Practice-focused deep belly breathing and mindful listening. The lessons provide students with effective skills to become resilient, focused and mindful learners. Students learn about the brain and how it functions, gaining insight into their own minds and behaviors, as well as those around them.


Lesson Topics Include...

  • How the Brain Works
  • Mindful Awareness
  • Focused Awareness: The Core Practice
  • Mindful Listening
  • Mindful Seeing
  • Perspective Taking


Ten Mindful Minutes, by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden

Merika McHugh


[email protected]

Phone: (310)798-8650 ext 3111

Office Hours: 8:00AM-3:15PM

Monday-Wednesday and Friday

(Please note I am not in the office on Thursdays)