WSCA Board Chair Message: WSCA Full-time Executive Director Announcement
By Olin Morrison, WSCA Board Chair

Greetings Wisconsin School Counselors,

I have exciting news! The Wisconsin School Counselor Association has extended an offer of full time employment to our Executive Director Stacy Eslick.  According to our policies, executive director remuneration is an annual process.  Stacy’s performance as WSCA Executive Director has far exceeded our expectations and has played a very large role in our ability to make this position full time.  However, our decision to increase this position was based on two main considerations: comparability and sustainability.

Our first consideration is about positioning our association to respond in the event that we need to hire a new executive director.  The guiding question for this consideration was: if we needed to hire a new executive director tomorrow, how comparable and competitive would the WSCA position be in the market for a new association leader?  The WSCA Board of Directors in transitioning to policy governance and hiring an executive director created conditions that allowed our association to be “at the table” in ways it had never been before.  Ensuring the comparability of the WSCA Executive Director position is the next step in guaranteeing increased member benefits into the foreseeable future.  In order to make this decision we looked at different market research and comparable positions across Wisconsin.  Based on this information, we believe that with a move to full time, we are making this position attractive to the best and the brightest.  This means, in the event that we have to hire a new executive director, we would have greater opportunity to find someone who could continue to deliver the kind of results that we have enjoyed under Stacy’s leadership.

Our second consideration of sustainability held the guiding question of: if we move this position to full time, is it sustainable financially without creating unnecessary or disproportionate costs for our members?  When the WSCA Board of Directors made the decision to transition to a policy governance model for association leadership, we looked at many different models for how associations handle the executive director position.  Among a paid executive director, we considered a volunteer position or even a committee of volunteers to satisfy this role.  After careful analysis it was determined that a paid executive director was the most viable option for consistency and effectiveness.  Given that our budget was not built to support a paid position, the board of directors determined that at that time it was only sustainable to hire an executive director on a part time basis.  In order to transition to a model that could sustain a paid position the board approved the use of reserve funds for a sunset plan to supplement the budget.  To this day not a single penny of the approved reserves has been needed to support the budget.  This means that when considering the sustainability of increasing the executive director position to full time, the board of directors was able to consider the option of a similar sunset plan to supplement the budget and transition the WSCA Executive Director job to a comparable and competitive position in the market for association leaders.

The WSCA Board of Directors is proud to make this announcement and excited for the future of our association!

DPI Corner: "It's a bird. It's a plane. It's WISELearn!"
By Gregg Curtis, DPI School Counseling Consultant

As counselors continue leading the work of ACP implementation, a new resource for student lessons and adult professional learning is taking shape. The WISELearn system has been designed to provide a centralized location housing educational and professional learning resources for all Wisconsin educators. This free online portal brings ACP instructional content to one easy-to-search spot. Users can explore classroom resources, discover professional learning opportunities, and connect with other WI educators to share successes and strategies. Take a look at DPI’s WISELearn homepage here:
Any educator can use the “Explore Classroom Resources” area to search for activities/resources by academic subject, grade level, media type, or resource collection. In addition, searches can be conducted using specific keywords or content standards. Take a look and play around on the resources page here:
In addition, the Wisconsin School Counselor Association has formed a small workgroup to begin collecting, vetting, and uploading lesson plans and other resources to help counselors put more tools in their ACP toolbox. WSCA members, trained as curators, will use WSCA-designed criteria that is aligned with the school counselor evaluation system, the ACSA National Model, and the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors to explore and rate educational resources. Following their review, resources that meet the criteria will receive a WSCA Badge signifying a threshold of excellence and effectiveness.
Take advantage of the WISELearn professional development offered through DPI here: or attend the WISELearn training/information session being conducted at the 2017 ACP  Conference on August 22, 2017. Registration for the conference is open now:

Topic of the Month:  AODA Programs of Promise

AODA Programming in Schools
By Tricia Norby, WSCA Director
Approximately 20% of 8th graders and almost 50% of 12th grades have consumed alcohol within the past 30 days. A 16-year old is more likely to die from a drinking-related problem (car crash, unintentional injury, murder, or suicide) than any other cause. The brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is involved in planning and decision making, does not completely mature until a person is in their mid 20’s.  Using alcohol or drugs can further affect and harm a teen’s ability to reason, which can increase risky decision-making that may lead to grim consequences.
When tackling the problem of adolescent alcohol and drug use, a two-tiered approach works best. Schools need to focusing on prevention (schoolwide and targeted at-risk students) in addition to working with identified students whose use ranges from experimentation to dependence.
Prevention Programs
Both SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) review new, evidence-based programs and their effectiveness. These reviews can be found on their websites. When trying to decide which program will work best for your students, data from a needs assessment such as the YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) is recommended.  This survey allows for anonymous, voluntary participation and includes questions on traffic safety, weapons and violence, suicide, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behavior, and diet, nutrition, and exercise. Multi-component programs that reach more than one group (students, parents/guardians, and/or the community) have proven more effective than focusing on one group alone.
Preventative programs can (and should) be used both school-wide and in targeted small groups for at-risk students. At-risk students can include those who have siblings, parents/guardians, or friends who use, have mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD, and/or exhibit behaviors such as isolating or impulsivity. It’s important to note that the majority of adolescents and young adults battling substance abuse and dependence may have an undiagnosed, untreated mental illness.
Drug information alone has not been found to be an effective deterrent. Using scare tactics and/or providing a one-time, school-wide prevention assembly has also been shown as ineffective. Successful prevention programs focus on strengthening students’ “sense of community,” or connection to school. Research has shown that this sense of community has been key to reducing drug use, violence, and mental health problems, while promoting academic motivation and achievement. Successful prevention also includes life-skills programs that focus is on building self-esteem, personal responsibility, communication, decision-making skills, refusal skills and asserting rights, and increasing knowledge of drug use consequences.
Involving parents/guardians in prevention programs can be the key to long-term success. Educating parents/guardians on how to reduce risk factors and strengthen bonding in their families is an integral part of prevention. Parents/guardians who set clear expectations, monitor behavior, appropriately maintain discipline, and use appropriate bonding approaches are most successful in raising children who refrain from use.
Choosing a Screener
When screening students individually, it is best to detect risk early. You will want to choose a screener that is empirically-based, quick, and versatile. You should also have training in whichever screener you choose. The CRAFFT tool identifies adolescent alcohol and drug use and associated behaviors. The SBRIT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) is specific to adolescent use, and the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) delves more deeply into alcohol-related behaviors and can be used for students 14-18 years old.
You can also utilize services such as those through the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Adolescent Alcohol/Drug Assessment Intervention Program (UWHC-AADAIP). They offer a comprehensive alcohol and drug evaluation program providing screening, assessment, intervention and referral services for youth and their families.
Working With Students Who Use
When working with students who are already actively using, counseling techniques such as CBT and Motivational Interviewing (MI) have shown to be the most effective. MI is a strength-based approach that highlights a student’s ability to change harmful behaviors despite their ambivalence/uncertainty of wanting to change. Students often know the dangers of alcohol and drug use but continue to use, despite the health risks and consequences. Focusing on a student’s motivations (for use and non-use) and understanding the factors that influence their use,  instead of preaching about the consequences, can help open the dialogue between you and resistant students.
Small groups can be helpful in certain circumstances; however, it is important to use caution when running small groups with students who use. Discussion needs to be carefully monitored and controlled, or students may use the opportunity to gain information about new techniques and suppliers, or find new using buddies.
When to Break Confidentiality
Breaking confidentiality for substance use can often fall into a gray area. Using your professional judgment, school policy, and your state’s minor consent laws (in regard to alcohol use) can help with your decision. The reported behaviors and associated risks of significant injury, as well as the presence of serious comorbid conditions (such as depression, risk of suicide, poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes), should also be considered. Illegal substance use should always be reported, but with substances like alcohol, tobacco products, and marijuana, the age of the student, family relationships, your state’s laws, and level of use are often what increases the uncertainty. All use by elementary students and most middle school students needs to be reported. Experimentation by high school students should be documented, consulted on, and possibly shared with parents/guardians. If use has moved beyond experimentation, then breaking confidentiality is in the best interest of the child and you, as a professional, even if it hurts the therapeutic relationship that you have built.
Prevention and use reduction is best achieved using a team approach. Involve your teachers and student services team to help collect data, identify students, teach preventive skills, motivate ambivalent students who use, and connect with parents/guardians. Lastly, remember to focus on good self-care. “Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation” –Audrey Lorde 

Staff Spotlight

Gregg Curtis, DPI School Counseling Consultant
I’m Gregg Curtis, and I’m in my fifth year as the School Counseling Education Consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. If I were to use song lyrics to describe my journey to DPI, they would have to be from poet Jerry Garcia, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
I graduated from Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, in 1979; and spent the next 10 years in Iowa City. Four of those years were a lesson in undergraduate futility at the University of Iowa. Four years were spent in a pipefitter apprenticeship with the UI Physical Plant. And two were finishing up a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Degree in hand, I moved to rural North Central Iowa in 1988; and I spent the next ten years as a middle school teacher.
I returned to the UI in 1998; receiving a master’s degree in school counseling in 2000; and I used my counselor training to work with the 450+ 7th and 8th graders on my caseload at South East Junior High School in Iowa City. Following my work as a school counselor, I returned to the UI and received my doctorate in Counselor Education with a minor in the Social Foundations of Education in 2008. Prior to joining DPI, I spent 6 years as a lecturer and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; preparing graduate students to work as counselors in schools, community mental health agencies, and institutions of higher education.
The first opportunity I had to work with WSCA was when I joined the board as the Government Relations chair. In that position I loved coordinating the Day on the Hill event for school counselors to advocate for the school counseling profession. In my role as DPI School Counseling Consultant, I serve as a liaison to both the WSCA Board of Directors and the WSCA Committee Coordinators; providing information and guidance to help the organization in its work to establish and work toward the ends policies.
While the leadership and accomplishments of the WSCA Board over the last 50 years is admirable, the board has made some major contributions to the Wisconsin school counseling landscape in the last 4 years. In 2016, the board made vital contributions to help evaluate school counselors’ work in an authentic, realistic way; creating an evaluation rubric, work flow, and collection of evidence that demonstrates what counselors do.  In addition, the board has been a partner of DPI in the rollout of the Academic and Career Planning Initiative; providing collaboration and avenues for professional development. Finally, significant strides in advocating for the profession have been made since 2012.
I am proud to serve the WSCA membership as liaison to the board and humbled to serve all school counselors as the DPI consultant. You can keep up to date with current school counseling topics by subscribing to the DPI school counseling list serve. Simply follow this link, enter your email address, check the “wcscp” box in the “Health, Wellness, Student Services” section, and submit. You will receive a welcome message and be able to network with me and counselors all over the state.
Keep up the great work you do with and for students! 

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Coordinator Spotlight

Katie Nechodom, Professional Recognition and Scholarship Coordinator

Katie Nechodom joined our WSCA coordinator team as the Graduate Student Co-Coordinator last year and decided she couldn't get enough of WSCA! She is now our Professional Recognition and Scholarship Coordinator. She is a first year school counselor at New London Middle School.
Katie didn't always want to be a school counselor. In fact, she wanted to be a veterinarian up until her first college chemistry exam when she realized that maybe vet school wasn't the best fit for her. She had many great mentors that guided her to becoming a middle school counselor. From her undergraduate internship supervisor, Betsy Klinger to her graduate student adviser, Kelli Saginak and her  middle school site internship supervisor, Tracy Schmidt they allowed her opportunities to learn, grow, and pursue her goals. She truly believes in the power of having great mentors and supervisors as a counselor in training because they have the power to shape future school counselors.
As a school counselor, Katie enjoys having the opportunity to think outside the box in her district and is able to bring her therapy dog in-training, Ruger, to school. The students learn through Ruger's resilience and they enjoy having a furry friend with a great listening ear. Katie has a passion for working with students and helping them see their highest potential.
Katie's main reason for joining the WSCA coordinator team was to get connected and be a change agent as a graduate student. She wanted to be able to have a voice and advocate for the profession. Now, as the Professional Recognition and Scholarship Coordinator, she is amazed to read all the incredible things school counselors and educators are doing in the state to advocate for their students.


Upcoming Events & Committee Updates

Government Relations Update

WSCA - Working for YOU!
Executive Director, Stacy Eslick, along with the Government Relations Committee joined forces earlier this spring with the School Psychologists Association and the School Social Workers Association to advocate for you.
The Leadership Group at the Department of Public Instruction has been suggesting licensing changes on school staffing. The Full Summary of Preliminary Licensing Recommendations Report, specifically recommends 1(c): Change administrative rules to offer universal licensure for certain pupil service, supplementary, and additional license categories that are substantially similar to licenses offered by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), such as social workers or speech and language pathologists.  
WSCA, along with the two associations named above drafted a joint letter to Superintendent Evers, DPI, and the Professional Standards Council, as well as meeting with Deputy Superintendent, Mike Thompson to outline several reasons that this licensing change suggestion is not in the best interest of students.  First, our professions require specific preparation for school-related issues, including special education, 504 Plans and gifted education; classroom instruction; program development, management, and evaluation; and comprehensive services for all students in the academic, personal/social, and career domains.  Community clinical psychologists, counselors, and social workers do not have this school-specific training. 
Secondly, the suggested proposed change states that, “In those cases where candidates would need additional training, school districts could provide the professional development or practicum to the employee. This change would provide greater employment opportunities to the license-holder, and would provide districts with a greater pool of candidates in shortage areas.”  The joint letter addressed the reality that school districts seeking a counselor in shortage areas would most likely be unable to provide an experienced mentor and practicum opportunity given the lack of available pupil service staff in rural areas to assist as mentors to specific student services professionals. Thus, the specialized training needed for counselors who are not school-licensed would be absent. 
Lastly, the necessity for student service staff to be Master level trained in order to maintain the quality and integrity of the profession was emphasized, noting that hiring less trained and qualified staff in the name of cost savings was not in the best interest of students and education.  The many pathways that can be taken to receive appropriate school counseling licensure were outlined and encouraged as the appropriate course of action for licensed practical counselors wishing to work in a school setting. 
It is with great enthusiasm that we can report to our WSCA members that our collective, and therefore powerful, voice was heard.  The suggested licensing change has been taken off of the table, ensuring that the integrity of the school counseling preparation and training requirements remain intact. 
The Government Relations Committee, Executive Director, and WSCA Board and Coordinators continue to work tirelessly on your behalf. Stay tuned for additional advocacy regarding current legislative issues. 
Many hands make light work. 
Please contact Andrea Donegan at  if you would like to join the crusade to inspire, educate, reform, improve, and expand our profession through the collective voice of the Government Relations Committee.  Your voice matters.

Professional Development 

2017 WSCA Summer Leadership Academy Registration is now LIVE!
Two full-day workshops are being offered on Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 at UW-Stevens Point

Topics:  ASCA National Model Implementation and Academic and Career Planning (ACP's).
Location:  UW-Stevens Point
Time:  9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Price:  Early Bird Special until May 31st - WSCA Member: $55, WSCA Non-member: $65

Don't miss out on this professional development! Please check out this page for more information and to register for this event!

Summer Academy will be held on July 25th, 2017 at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point from 9am-4pm. This day will have two presenters on two different topics: Mark Kuranz from ASCA will be training on the ASCA National Model Standards (Mindsets and Behaviors Standards for K-12 College and Career Readiness), and Gregg Curtis from DPI will be presenting on Academic and Career Plans (these are due to roll out this fall for every district in Wisconsin). Both of these topics are important to Wisconsin school counselors in that Wisconsin is adopting the ASCA National Model Standards, Mindsets and Behaviors, into all school counseling programs; the ACP presentation will be geared toward school districts who may not be as far along as they thought or hoped in the ACP process, or maybe have not even begun. This day will help make sure your schools and district are on the right track! Summer Academy provides quality professional development at an affordable price, early bird special of $55 for a WSCA member or $65 for a non-member – what a deal!

One graduate credit through Viterbo University will also be available for only $200! Please go to the Summer Academy link below to register for the grad credit and for more information.

Publications Update

 Send questions/articles to and the Editorial Board will let you know when it will be used.

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!


The Wisconsin School Counseling Program Accountability Report is continually changing to help the school counseling profession in Wisconsin.  This year is no different as we look forward to transitioning from the WCSCM to the ASCA Model. Look for changes in the upcoming months!
In a recent counseling department meeting, one school counselor (the guy writing this) really felt like the AFLAC duck. Stick with me on this one! You know that AFLAC duck.  The duck that answers questions about insurance and who gets paid when you’re off the job. AFLAC. Who covers benefits when your major medical coverage doesn’t? AFLAC.  As we were sitting in the department meeting all I could think about was the AFLAC duck and how it could be swapped into the WSCPAR. How can we show our school board the excellent work of our school counselors? WSCPAR.  What’s the best way to show our school climate and safety? WSCPAR. How do we know that our students are academically, social/emotionally, and career ready? WSCPAR.  What’s an easy way to show the results of our school counseling program? WSCPAR.
As we near the end of the 2016-2017 school year, please consider doing your school counseling program a favor and complete and submit a WSCPAR.  Application deadline remains October 15, 2017 so there’s plenty of time.

Conference Update

Don’t miss out on next year’s amazing professional development opportunity! Be sure 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 that you would love to share with other school counseling professionals?  If you answered yes to either one of those questions, please 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.  The deadline for sectional proposals is November 10, 2017.
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


June 2017