WSCA Executive Director Message: Answering the Call for College and Career Readiness
By Stacy Eslick, WSCA Executive Message

Over 1100 school counselors “answered the call” this year at the annual WSCA conference in Madison.  It is an honor to represent such a passionate, dedicated and knowledgeable group of professionals.  There were many themes and calls to action in the area of advocacy and leadership.
Trish Hatch, opening keynote speaker, encouraged us to be the vocal voice for the critical importance of school counselors in relation to College and Career Readiness (CCR).  WSCA has been leading this effort with the Reach Higher Wisconsin leadership team.  This team developed the following area of focus.

The Reach Higher initiative is a collaborative effort to inspire every student in WI to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, technical college, or a four-year college or university.

The How:

  • Focus on empowering school counselors in CCR
    • Focus on increasing alignment and leveraging resources among stakeholders/partnerships (build connections and align with their role)
    • Weaving CCR into school counseling program & ACP plans
  • Build the capacity of stakeholders to understand and support the needs of the school counseling program related to CCR
    • school administrators
    • superintendents
    • business leaders
    • school directors
    • community partners
    • DPI
    • Local and statewide elected officials
Areas of Practice:
  • Increase school administration understanding of the role of school counselors in relation to Reach Higher & CCR
  • Increase capacity of counselor graduate programs to increase CCR knowledge and practice - how are programs ensuring content delivery, rigor and application to practice
  • Develop and build K-12 & institutes of higher education partnerships (technical schools, universities, apprenticeships, etc.)
  • Increase quantity and quality of school counselor training and professional development related to CCR
  • Cultivating community relationships to support school counselor work in CCR
If you would like to “answer the call” and be a member of a Reach Higher Wisconsin area of practice subcommittee, please contact me at so I can add you to our team.
Warm regards,

WSCA Assistant Board Chair Message:  Motivation and Achievement
By Angela Goebel, Assistant Board Chair

We just celebrated our WSCA’s Annual Conference.  We hope you were able to enjoy and find value in our keynote speakers, sectionals, and the time to connect and network with each other.  I know I always find myself refreshed and motivated to get back and try a few of the new things I learned.  My renewal benefits students and teachers.
With approximately three months remaining in our school year, our teachers need our support to continue motivating our students to learn and achieve.  While many of our students have the intrinsic motivation that helps them positively progress forward in their education, some of our other students need us to help them find their internal drive.
As educators, finding ways to pass the blame as to why students are not motivated can be easy.  (Technology has student focus, parents aren’t involved, or kids are entitled.)  But none of these thoughts are growth mindset.  Falling into the blame game puts us in a fixed mindset.  It is our responsibility to look beyond those excuses and find everything we can do to boost student motivation and achievement. 
So, as we continue to persevere in our school year and support all students, the intrinsically motivated and those that struggle in school, it is good to reflect on our practices.  How am I genuinely connected with my students?  How do my words contribute to a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?  Our students have more potential than we sometimes get to see. How we support students will allow those strengths to shine through.

Topic of the Month:  Motivation and Success - How Counselors Support Student Achievement

Student Motivation and Success
By Adriana Plach, WSCA Director
Student motivation, and its subsequent connection to student success, has endured as an area of pursuit for all of those in education - administrators, teachers, counselors, parents, and researchers.  How do we light a fire within our students?  How do we cultivate an intrinsic desire to learn within a culture driven by extrinsic motivators (and distractors)? 
As counselors, we are tasked with the privilege and responsibility of engaging 100% of our students through a counseling program that contributes to the academic, personal-social, and career success of each individual.  When we examine the additional responsibilities that counselors are often asked to shoulder (504 case managing, ELL support, RtI involvement, talented & gifted programming, scheduling, test scheduling, classroom coverage, recess duty….), this can sometimes feel more like an insurmountable endeavor, rather than a privilege.  That being said, counselors are critical players in the pursuit of student motivation and success.  In many ways, we are the “linchpins” that combine what we know about the whole child, providing avenues for tapping into elements that will ignite authentic interest and motivation in learning.  As educators shift from a role of “content expert” into the role of “facilitator of learning”, we find new opportunities for personalized learning, transforming how education has previously been delivered. 
In my experience with student motivation and success, student motivation is nurtured through a personalized approach, recognizing that we will tap into the highest student potential when an individual is authentically engaged in the learning process.  Three key factors can be considered as educational delivery is explored: student interest, student motivation, and student readiness to learn.  When combined in a student-centered methodology, these elements form a personalized learning opportunity that is difficult for even the most challenging student to resist. 
Student Interest:
Genuine student interest in a topic is a critical component to assess with student learning.  Even the most gifted or acquiescent of students may not give full attention or effort when they lack interest in the topic or subject. 
Student Motivation:
Just as my son chooses to get ready quickly in the morning, knowing that he isn’t able to access “screen time” until he is dressed, combed, brushed, and packed for the day, students will direct their energies to efforts in which they are motivated to perform. While motivators may start out as extrinsic, when students are actively engaged in learning, a shift to being intrinsically motivated to learn.
Student Readiness to Learn:
A multitude of factors can impact a student’s readiness to learn: family issues, hunger, maturity, fatigue, etc.  Assessing an individual’s readiness to learn by considering the whole child is critical to guiding a student toward success.  Some students will be ready for more independent learning than others.
When school counselors consider these three elements, we find that we are in a unique position to help students find success.  We are able to tap into the uniqueness of each individual in a way that allows them to become authentically engaged with the learning process, aligning with their personal interests and building upon their strengths.
Academic and Career Planning is a unique example of how powerful and influential school counselors can be in helping students become motivated to flex their potential and find success.  Here school counselors facilitate programming that connects a student’s interests - both academically and personally - with a topic that is of utmost interest to our students - themselves!  Developing over years of critical growth and maturity, these plans adjust and shift as each individual’s readiness changes. 
In addition to Academic and Career Planning, counselors have many opportunities to employ practical strategies that influence a student’s success in school.  A few other strategies that may influence the motivation, interest, and readiness to learn of our students may include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • One-Minute meetings - meet with students briefly in a meet-and-greet format to learn more about the whole student and communicate a commitment to get to know students personally.
  • Response to Intervention - if you aren’t involved with RtI, advocate to be a member of your building’s team.  You have information and expertise to offer that can shed light on a student’s interest, motivation, and readiness to learn.
  • Silent Mentoring - Set up processes to assess which students are not positively connecting with adults within the building.  Once identified, ask staff to volunteer to “silently mentor” one or two of these students.  This may involve informally checking in, or even simply greeting the student by name daily.
  • Voice & Choice - provide students with ways to have a level of control in how they learn.  This could be having students self-select how they will demonstrate mastering a topic, or choosing from a menu of topics of interest within a content area.  When students are interested, encourage them to take their interest deeper. 
As educators shift away from being “content experts” into a role of “facilitators of learning”, remember that counselors can do the same.  While we will always focus on direct student support, we are also incredibly instrumental in training and supporting others in recognizing the whole child.  This is a powerful way to extend our reach, and maximize how we positively influence the school, our students, and their futures.

Support for the Anxious Minority
By Tabitha Stelter, Publications Coordinator
The excitement from last November’s election is finally fading although there are just as many news stories to read each day.  The reality that a successful businessman is our 45th president has set in and many of our lives have returned to normal.  Yet in the last few months, I’ve seen the anxiety in a pocket of students increase.  I have wondered what to say/do when 1st and 2nd grade siblings tell me that they will have to leave our school because their parents are not going to be allowed in this country any longer.  These are innocent children who shouldn’t have to know this kind of “grown up” issue, but unfortunately it is their reality.
Many school counselors are no doubt experiencing similar conversations. I’m excited to share a resource with you that Dr. Lisa Edwards and Jacki Black of Marquette University have developed for teachers and school personnel entitled,  “Stress Related to Immigration Status in Students: A Brief Guide for Schools”. 
In this document the authors have included information about toxic stress and its effects on children, behavioral/emotional signs that teachers might see in the classroom, and suggestions for school personnel to support children and families.  It is their hope that the information and practical tips can support school counselors and other educators in their work to lessen the harm that this political reality may have on the families they work with.  Resource to download (PDF) - Stress Related to Immigration Status in Students: A Brief Guide for Schools

Wisconsin School Counseling Program Accountability Report (WSCPAR)
Program of Promise Winners Announced

By Todd Hadler, WSCPAR Coordinator
TheThis year, ten school counseling programs met/exceeded the requirements for Program of Promise award and were recognized at the annual Wisconsin School Counselor Association (WSCA) conference in Madison, WI on February 23, 2017.

The Program of Promise award is the highest recognition that a comprehensive school counseling program can receive from WSCA. School counselors submit a Wisconsin School Counseling Program Accountability Report (WSCPAR) highlighting their data driven program, student results, and school climate and safety. The peer reviewed WSCPAR must meet and exceed stringent content standards for award consideration.  WSCPAR’s are reviewed once per year by a panel of school counseling professionals with the next submission deadline being October 15, 2017.

Completing and submitting a WSCPAR to WSCA shows a commitment to advancing, creating, and maintaining a comprehensive and data driven school counseling program. Meeting and exceeding the standards for the Program of Promise award provides recognition in front of your colleagues. It also showcases the incredible work that school counselors do to support the success and achievement of students.  What an honor!

Award winners with just some of the data they collected include:

Edison Elementary School - Appleton Area School District
Using the PBIS Tier II intervention “Check in check out,” for a targeted group of Edison students receiving office discipline referrals, 66% of those identified made significant behavior improvements.  
Burlington High School – Burlington Area School District
Reporting on one of their WSCPAR goals from last year, Burlington school counselors wanted to increase the number of dual credit courses completed and AP exams taken by 5%.  The result of their efforts actually netted them a 25% increase!
Franklin High School  
Counselors met individually with students, conducted parent meetings, and facilitated placement into appropriate academic programs so that 22 out of 24 credit deficit students would graduate. 
Gibraltar Elementary and Middle School
Using the Stop, Walk, Talk anti bullying program taught by the school counselor, Office Discipline Referrals decreased by 62%.
Gibraltar Middle and High School 
A targeted intervention group, led by the school counselor, teaching managing materials, organization, time management, using a planner, study strategies, goal setting, and learning styles, increased GPA’s for 75% of the students in that group.
EP Rock Elementary School – Hudson School District
The school counselor started a homework completion group focusing on challenges, growth mindset, homework strategies, and goal setting. They more than tripled the average for homework completion in just 6 weeks.
Prairie Elementary School – Hudson School District 
The pre and post-test survey results from the 7 fourth grade students in an Anxious Behavior Group show that all students in this group know how to effectively manage their worries. A 133.3% increase from the pre-test.
Willow River Elementary School – Hudson School District
Fifth grade students at Willow River complete a Learner’s Resume.  Post-test survey results show an increase in knowledge about post-secondary options. 
School District of Shiocton
Using the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the ACT Engage Survey to measure school climate, Shiocton school counselors set a goal to renew emphasis on character traits through discussion and activities. Belongingness increased from 70.6% in 2013 to 82.2% in 2016.
School District of Winter
School District of Winter’s second school counseling goal for the 2017-2018 school year states that 85% of middle and high school students will identify at least 1 supportive adult at school as reported on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. We look forward to seeing the results of their goal as well as seeing them on stage winning their 2018 PoP award for next year’s WSCPAR.

Not only does submitting a WSCPAR show your program’s worth, but it highlights the incredible success your students achieve with your help.  Submitting a WSCPAR may seem like a lot of work, but it’s a tool to organize what you do and create an end goal for that work. Trish Hatch preached the importance of data to help school counselors to answer the call.  The WSCPAR is an incredible vehicle to organize that data.  Use it, submit it by October 15th and we hope to see all of you on stage next year!

Director Spotlight

Adriana Plach, WSCA Director
A love of children and a passion for learning inspired me to pursue a career in school counseling.  As a student, I was fascinated by the uniqueness of others. My journey began at UW-Madison, studying psychology, criminal justice, attachment style, and revictimization.  After graduating with a very vague plan about my next steps, I discovered another passion in working with adults with developmental disabilities.  A few years later I explored ways to combine my love of working with unique individuals and the field of education, finding myself at UW-Milwaukee pursuing my degree in school counseling. 
For the past 11 years I had the privilege of serving as a middle school counselor, working with the fascinating and ever-enlightening age of adolescence!  This year I have transitioned into a new role, focusing on K12 Academic and Career Planning within my district, directing energy at helping others increase their self-awareness and post-secondary planning.  I am so excited about my new role, because it allows me to support a much larger group of students!  An added benefit is helping students avoid my “vague planning”, and have more direction about their futures!
This is my first year on the WSCA Board of Directors.  I am overwhelmed at the talents of those I work with and am so excited to be learning and contributing to the field at a state level.  I strongly encourage all of my colleagues across the state to get involved - you are all doing amazing things and being an active member of WSCA is a fantastic way to collaborate, contribute, and learn! 

Back to Top

Staff Spotlight

Rebecca Schneider, Public Relations Co-Coordinator
Rebecca Schneider is our newest member to join the WSCA board and serves as our Public Relations Co-Coordinator.  She has been a school counselor with DeForest Area High School for seven years.  Before that, she was an ATODA Counselor, Mental Health and Crisis Counselor in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. 
School counseling seemed like a natural fit for Rebecca.  She grew up the youngest of four sisters and was the one that observed behaviors from a young age.  Her parents exposed her to many diverse cultural events;  from a young age became empathetic and open to the world around her.  From early on, this wealth of experiences allowed for her creativity and empathy to grow and mature.  As a high school student, Rebecca's school counselor told her that she should not go to college because she wasn't one of the Top Ten students in her class.  She remembers thinking about the thousands of students that were affected by that school counselor.  What if all those students listened to that pessimistic, old-school thought?   Rebecca wanted better for herself.  With that comment from her counselor tucked away, Rebecca worked to achieve her goals.  Now, she wants better for her students than she received in high school.  Rebecca brings empathy and open-mindedness and strives for a positive relationship with her students and parents through good communication and a positive outlook. She is passionate about working with students and enjoys helping them plan for their future.
Rebecca's main reason for wanting to be part of the WSCA Board was to expand her connection with positive people in the world of school counselors. She loves working with the WSCA members and feels a healthy and positive connection about her work and the future of school counseling.  Our jobs can be emotionally draining and it's wonderful to have people to connect with that "get it", appreciate it and work through it.  


Committee Updates & Upcoming Events

Professional Development 

Plan to Attend WSCA's 11th Annual Summer Leadership Academy

This year's topics:  ASCA National Model Implementation and Academic and Career Planning (ACP's).
Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
9:00 - 4:00 pm - Stevens Point, WI
Click here for more information

Professional Recognition and Scholarship Update

This year, WSCA received over 30 professional recognition nominations, over 260 high school scholarship applications, and 17 graduate student scholarships! The Professional Recognition and Scholarship committee are excited to announce the award recipients.

Career Cruising/Method Test Prep High School Scholarship Winners
Charlie Fischer - Kimberly High School
School Counselor - Tracie Halfmann
Elizabeth Henriksen - Nekoosa High School
School Counselor - Rachel Seevers
Sydney Karch - Amherst High School
School Counselor - Shelley Swanson
Kaleigh Wink - Somerset High School
School Counselor - Katie Francis
Mike Troy Graduate Student Scholarship
Cynthia Estrup - UW Oshkosh
Brian Linscott - Mount Mary University
School Counselor of the Year
Karen Grieve - Elementary and Middle School Counselor
Bayfield School District, Bayfield, WI (Top Winner - Will be going on to ASCA SCOY)
Jennifer Holle - Elementary School Counselor
Cooper School, Burlington, WI
Amy Medema - High School Counselor
Randolph High School, Randolph, WI
Sarah Kronberger - Middle School Counselor
Chequamegon School District, Park Falls, WI
Mary Gehrke-McAllister Award
Denise Broulliard - UW Stout, Menomonie, WI
Supervisor of the Year
Nicholas Kohn - Franklin Public Schools,  Franklin, WI
Secretary/Support Staff
Joyce Price - Franklin High School, Franklin, WI
Friend of School Counseling
Mike Hanson - Retired School Counselor, Madison, WI
Counseling Team
Marci Kuhn & Sara Greenwood - Mishicot Middle & High School, Mishicot, WI
Research Award
Jennifer Betters-Bubon - UW Whitewater, Whitewater, WI
Jerome Henning Legislator Award
Senator Kathleen Vinehout, Madison, WI

Questions, please contact Katie Nechodom, Professional Recognition and Scholarship Coordinator, at

Publications Update

April WSCAlink: Standing Up for the Profession- Taking it to the Hill
Deadline is March 10

May WSCAlink: Preparing to Review Your Program’s Effectiveness (Year-End Program Audit)
Deadline is April 10
In the meantime, send questions/articles to and the Editorial Board will let you know when it will be used. Don’t be afraid, be published!


Graduate Student Update

The list of benefits for graduate students who are WSCA members is long and diverse. Through WSCA, graduate students have opportunities to network with professionals currently in the field, build connections with peers entering the school counseling profession, receive information and education through WSCA publications, attend our exceptional annual conference, and be a part of their future profession at the state level. Leadership, advocacy, and professional development opportunities abound. If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved in WSCA or your specific university’s school counseling program, please email Holly Kortemeier or Amy Sylvester-Knudtson. Join WSCA today!

Conference Update

WSCA Conference 2017

Feb. 21-23, 2017 - Monona Terrace, Madison, WI

We hope that you were able to join us in February for the 52nd Annual Wisconsin School Counselor Association conference in Madison. The WSCA conference committee would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the attendees this year. If you have not had time to do so already, we’d greatly appreciate your feedback on the post-conference survey. The survey was emailed out to all conference attendees following this year’s conference and can also be found HERE. One lucky survey participant will be selected to receive an Amazon gift card!  The planning committee takes your input very seriously and your feedback is used to implement new ideas and suggestions year after year. We can’t grow if we don’t know, so please share your conference feedback with us.  Deadline March 15th
Now that you’ve had some time to process and reflect on all the amazing professional development at the conference, it’s time to start thinking about plans for next year.  We invite you to SAVE THE DATE for the 2018 WSCA Conference:
WSCA 53rd Annual State Conference
School Counselors: Agents of Change
Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center 
Madison, Wisconsin
Did you hear from a conference presenter this year that sparked your interest on a certain topic? Do you have an idea you would love to share with other school counseling professionals? Then consider presenting your information and ideas at next year’s conference. There are two ways to be involved in speaking at the WSCA conference:
  • The call for 2018 Preconference Workshop Speakers has begun. We invite you to share your expertise with other counselors! Tell them about the unique programs developed in your school district. The purpose of the conference is to provide new challenges for professional and personal growth. The Preconference Program Proposal forms can be downloaded here and must be submitted by the June 1, 2017 deadline.
  • The Search for 2018 Sectional Presenters is on! The heart of all WSCA Conferences will always be the sharing of material from school counselors in the trenches. Share your latest and greatest practices and ideas at the 2018 WSCA Conference by doing a one-hour sectional. Sectional Proposal Forms are available here.
Please note the following: Criteria used for review and selection of program proposals will be based on the interest in topic, and clarity of the proposal.  Diverse and innovative programs are encouraged.  Programs will be chosen that meet the needs of all levels of school counselors and other professionals and individuals interested in counseling. Presentations encouraging purchase of books, materials or services will be not be accepted.
We are excited to announce the 2018 WSCA Conference Keynote Speakers:
Michele Borba, Internationally Renowned Educator, Best-selling Author and Parenting, Child Development, and Bullying Expert
BRUNCH KEYNOTE SPEAKER (February 22, 2018)
Rosalind Wiseman, Educator, Parent Expert & Social Activist
Looking forward to another fabulous conference
full of ideas on how
School Counselors can be


March 2017