|Celebrating National School Counseling Week!|
|posted by: Melissa | February 08, 2017, 06:46 PM|
This week marks National School Counseling Week. AAE could say many things about the wonderful educators that choose to enter into school counseling, but this blog, originally posted by Annie O' Brien on Edutopia, does so wonderfully.
Among the most underappreciated of education professionals may be school counselors. These certified or licensed professionals (depending on state requirements) work with teachers, parents, social workers, and many others to address the academic, the career, and the personal and social development needs of all students. And research consistently shows that their efforts are critically important to student success, both in school and in life.
But in too many places, unfortunately, school counselors are considered a luxury. While the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends ratios of one school counselor per 250 students, the national average is nearly twice that amount of students. The Office of Civil Rights U.S. Department of Education has also found that, nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor.
Looking Beyond Test Scores and College Enrollment
As this light is shining on the school counselors, we should take care to recognize all the contributions they make in the lives of students and in the school community.
Counselors often lead a school's work in conflict resolution, and can play an important role in substance abuse education. They refer students and families to community agencies that can help them meet their food, housing, and legal needs, as well as address other challenges they may be facing.
They can play a huge role in building the culture and climate of a school. They also often lead a school's work in "soft skills," such as grit, motivation, and self-regulation, conducting lessons directly with students and training other staff in how to develop these skills in students. And they do much, much more to remove barriers to learning and help students succeed.
Consider, for example, Mindy Willard, the counselor at Sunset Ridge Elementary School, in Arizona, and the 2013 School Counselor of the Year. She has created a counseling program that serves all 650 of her school's students through a range of activities and interventions. In addition to small group sessions and individual counseling as needed, her program focuses on guidance lessons.
In addition, Willard addresses school-level challenges as they arise. Faced with changing demographics and increased transiency due to economic issues, she researched best practices for welcoming and transitioning new students, and she developed several activities.
Also, to meet the needs of the increased number of students without school supplies or appropriate clothing, Willard works with the student council and National Junior Honor Society to host school supply drives, clothing drives, and canned food drives. She also refers families to community agencies that can better assist them when they have a need she is unable to fulfill through her own resources.
Willard's program is certainly an exemplar. In addition to her being named the School Counselor of Year, her program has received designation as a Recognized ASCA Model Program, an honor reserved for comprehensive data-driven school counseling programs. But across the country, counselors like her are engaging in important work every day, and we should do more to support and recognize that.
Learn more about National School Counseling Week on the American School Counselor Association Website.