March 2021: Partnerships & Parents

Table of Contents

A message from the WSCA Executive Director

Dear WSCA members,

The theme for this month’s WSCAlink is Partnerships.  In reading through the newsletter you will see how WSCA is “at the table” building relationships and partnerships with stakeholder groups that want to help support school counselors.  The number of connections we have built this year has been exponential.  These are invaluable to you not only for access to resources but through the education and advocacy that WSCA is able to offer to these groups on the role of schools counselors and how we serve students. Your support of WSCA through your membership makes this possible.  WSCA is one of only two school counselor associations in the United States that have a full time Executive Director and paid staff to cultivate these relationships as well as coordinate and oversee member services.   

WSCA leaders recently attended the ASCA mid-year Leadership Development Institute with school counselor association leaders across the country.  It was very clear during this institute that WSCA is a national leader and provides a significant value for all that we offer to our members.  As a leadership team, we have been discussing member value over the past 18 months and we have started to take action on helping Wisconsin school counselors better understand the benefits of being a member as well as identifying other benefits counselors are seeking that we do not offer.  To this end, we are in the process of updating our website to include more member only areas and resources.  We will also be finalizing our strategic plan at our upcoming WSCA leadership meeting in April which will focus on how we best support our members so they can achieve the highest level of effectiveness.  

We THANK YOU for your continued support by being a WSCA member.  We look forward to sharing the projects we have been working on as we continue to strive to meet your needs.

~Stacy

WSCA leaders welcome new DPI consultant Andrea Donegan

Thank you, Andrea Donegan!

Andrea Donegan has been a valuable member of the WSCA Board of Directors for the last two and a half years.  She has worked tirelessly for WSCA in her role on the board. During the last year and a half she has been the Board Chair and also sat on both the Bylaws & Policies Committee and the Compensation Committee. Her attention to detail and strong leadership skills has led to stronger and more precise practices, procedures, and policies which ultimately makes for a stronger organization. Andrea will be greatly missed and her shoes will be hard to fill!

How did we go about filling these shoes? Since Andrea stepped down from her role as a school counselor she was no longer eligible to serve on the board per WSCA policy (In order to be a Board Member, one must be a practicing school counselor with at least three years of experience, a school counselor educator, or a newly retired school counselor). While we are sad to see Andrea go, her new position as the DPI School Counseling Consultant means that she will still work with the board, just in a different capacity. Since there was only 6 months left to Andrea’s 3 year board position, the Board of Directors appoints someone who has experience with the Board and Policy Governance, and voted to have Laura Multer complete Andrea’s term.

Andrea, you will be missed but we also look forward to the support you will be able to provide from within your new role in the Department of Public Instruction.

Andrea can be reached at: Andrea.Donegan@dpi.wi.gov or
(608) 224-6175

A message from the WSCA Board of Directors

Hello! May we talk about equity, social justice and anti-racism practices as Professional School Counselors? What actions take place to ensure, despite systemic educational inequities, that all students and families in your school community feel welcomed and dreams and goals are heard and supported? I feel that some of us may be motivated or excited to work towards providing more equitable educational experiences, which has come to the forefront in light of recent events. Others may have feelings of overwhelm, uncomfort or not know where to start. And there may be the feeling of fatigue, for this new passion for equity and anti-racism educational practices is warranted but has been a fight had by so many for generations, for so long. 

As Professional School Counselors we must remain committed to equity and cultural humility! We must understand the true impact that a school counselor has on the academic and life trajectories of students specifically those who are Black, Indigenous People of Color.  But what exactly does this look like? I hope to be transparent in sharing some thoughtful insights (as well as applicable resources) that you may utilize in your daily work and create New Year Intentions for 2021!

At the start of the year we usually create New Year’s Resolutions. I want us to challenge ourselves to create New Year’s Intentions around our work in equity, social justice, anti-racism and cultural humility within our school community. I say ‘intentions’ as I want us to pledge to intentionally make our actions ones that support all students regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status. I have created two of them for us to work on together. I hope we can help one another commit to working on these intentions and more for 2021!

Intention #1 is to interrupt acts of implicit bias. In the school community, we hear things said (assume only one parent in the home because of ethnicity), see things done (minimize academic ability- no AP courses) that are very harmful to students. BIPOC’s academic trajectories can not be impacted based upon implicit bias and assumptions.  Use your voice to speak up and interrupt it immediately. We must also acknowledge our own implicit bias and intentionally repair the harm that has been done. 

Intention #2 is to listen and learn. Listen intentionally with cultural humility by understanding the social inequities, differences of challenges and related barriers that BIPOC students and families may have. Could you complete an equity audit of the SEL practices used?  There are some aspects of SEL that may not fully not support our BIPOC students and families. Learn from conversations, lean into the discomfort, expand your knowledge to assist your work as a social justice advocate. 

As a WSCA Board member I hope to continue to positively impact all students and families by utilizing my leadership and partnerships to work toward systemic change in policies and raise the voices of all. I look forward to our future conversations about racial justice, equity and anti-racism practices as Professional School Counselors. I am even more excited to see us move forward with actions and collective efforts! I see you, and acknowledge that you are doing great work, so let’s keep working and reach our New Year’s Intentions!

~Mia Tatum Crider

Feature Article – Teach Parents to See their Kids as Problem-Solvers - Build Confidence to Beat Anxiety

Teach Parents to See their Kids as Problem-Solvers – Build Confidence to Beat Anxiety
Kelly Curtis
EP Rock Elementary, Hudson School District

I’ve been helping at parent pickup for the past 11 years and when you do something long enough you start to notice things most people would miss. One is the striking number of parents that carry their kids’ backpacks, when they are perfectly capable of carrying their own. While not evidence based, for me the trend has become pretty obvious. Children whose parents regularly carry their backpacks are often the same children I help to cope with separation anxiety, overreactions and general helplessness. These are often the children that visit the health office too often, are easily frustrated by new skills and have little tolerance for mistakes.

Over the years I’ve found valuable strategies to help parents help their children with anxious responses: Building strong relationships, offering opportunities for parents to learn skills, and seeing kids as problem-solvers.

The parent pickup connection is a great way to jump start relationships with parents. But the real power is reaching out to parents when problems arise. When I ask parents to help me in solving a problem with their child, they are often open to suggestions. While messages aren’t always accepted right away, I can plant seeds that grow and these concepts I can come back to later. For the same purpose, teachers often invite me to parent teacher conferences to offer support and brainstorm solutions for kids.

Ongoing and systemic parent education opportunities make it possible to consistently have resources to offer parents when I have these conversations, no matter who initiated them. In our district we offer Parenting with Love and Logic classes, parent book clubs about anxiety, and ongoing newsletter articles, parenting blogs and books for checkout so that we can empower parents to learn strategies to address their concerns.

And finally, with everyone, I share the message that we need to see children as problem-solvers. In our society we are too often groomed to over-protect, over-schedule and over-help children. We solve problems for kids before they are even aware there is a problem. Each time we do this, we dis-empower kids – we essentially tell them, “you can’t do this, so I will do this for you.” If we can flip that message in all areas of a child’s life, all adults can help to build confidence in all kids.

All of this creates an environment where parents are willing to ask for help, and where I am willing to have the discussion. After so many years, parents know I’m the one in the bright yellow vest and the Mickey Mouse gloves. So when I see caregivers regularly carrying their kids backpacks, I will often encourage them to have kids carry their own. I explain it helps them to feel big and strong and confident. I reach out, it helps build confidence in parents, and in turn, they empower their kids. Together, we are raising problem-solvers.

You Spoke, We Listened

Bucky’s Tuition Promise Supporting Over 2000 Students

Greg Offerman
University of Wisconsin – Madison
Office of Student Financial Aid

There’s never been a better time to make the investment in higher education, especially if financial aid is able to help with college expenses.  With the pandemic still looming and some job prospects being limited, earning a degree can be a great way to prepare for that future career opportunity.  The University of Wisconsin-Madison has Bucky’s Tuition Promise ready to support any and all students whose family’s adjusted gross income is below $60,000, and our team is excited to help students through their FAFSA application process, including assistance with appeals to make sure their FAFSA result is as accurately as possible.

It’s been just over three years since the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced the Bucky’s Tuition Promise program, promising to cover 4 years of tuition and fees for any incoming freshman (2 years of tuition and fees for an incoming transfer student) whose family’s adjusted gross income was less than $56,000.  Three years in, and the program continues to grow on a number of levels.  The income range has since been increased to $60,000, and each year the number of students accepted into the program has grown as well.  Altogether, the 2020-2021 school year sees 2,518 students attending UW-Madison with the support of the Bucky’s Tuition Promise program.  

The good news with our aid programs doesn’t end at Bucky’s Tuition Promise.  For students and families who have greater need, or more limited income, our FASTrack program can meet full financial need covering up to the full cost of tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, supplies, and travel expenses for 4 years.  Families who receive a form of public assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income, free or reduced price school lunch, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children) will qualify for FASTrack.  The support our team offers extends beyond financial aid as well.  Students can take advantage of monthly workshops, community building events, peer mentoring, financial wellness advising, and success coaching to ensure they are successful once on campus in Madison.  Financial aid offers are going out currently for the next incoming class of Bucky’s Tuition Promise and FASTrack recipients, and we’re ready to answer questions that help students make sense of their financial aid opportunities.  Our sincere hope is that our aid offers can be life changing experiences for our Wisconsin families, and that our students with limited income at UW-Madison can thrive well into their future.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.  Greg Offerman can be reached at greg.offerman@wisc.edu or 608-262-4335.

Children’s Wisconsin Offers Mental and Emotional Health Resources at No Cost to Wisconsin Schools and Families

Children’s Wisconsin

Children’s Wisconsin knows that an important part of overall health is mental and emotional wellbeing,  especially as everyone tries to stay healthy during the pandemic. We are pleased to offer programs and  resources to Wisconsin schools and families that address these needs in new and innovative ways. 

Online health programming for virtual and in-person use: Two of our engaging health education e learning programs, Healthy Minds 3rd Grade and Healthy Minds 4th Grade, focus on mental and  emotional health and are ideal for introducing these important topics, whether you are working with  students virtually, in-person, or in a hybrid model. Students learn about what makes a healthy mind,  along with the skills needed to help them lead healthy lives. They’ll learn about the importance of  recognizing their feelings, connecting with others, being physically active, getting enough sleep, and  other healthy habits. Read more about Healthy Minds 3rd Grade and Healthy Minds 4th Grade, and  enroll today. Healthy Minds for 5th Grade and for Kindergarten are in development.  

All of our e-learning resources, including both Healthy Minds courses, are now also available to families  to access at home at no charge. Please share these resources with families and let them know they can  sign up for free access to these and other important health education programs on our Community  Users registration page (discount applied once you create an account). 

Mission: Healthy Kids for Educators and Families: Mission: Healthy Kids, a partnership of Kohl’s Cares®  and Children’s Wisconsin, raises awareness about the impact of nutrition and physical activity on  children’s physical and mental and emotional health. The Mission: Healthy Kids website for Educators  and Families includes valuable information and activities on Healthy Minds, with resources for kids age  2 through 18, including the basics of mental and emotional health, how to help when a child is  stressed, Ask the Expert videos, and much more. Find these resources and more on the Mission:  Healthy Kids page

Take 5ive Mindfulness Videos: Children’s Take 5ive™ videos, developed in partnership with Growing  Minds, are a series of guided mindfulness exercises designed to help develop focusing skills, cultivate  everyday kindness, compassion and gratitude, and help children reset and make the mind-body  connection through movement. The videos feature calming nature scenes with voiced instructions and  animations. 

Children’s Wisconsin offers a wide range of health education programming for Wisconsin schools,  including Mental and Emotional Health (Healthy Minds), Bullying Prevention (Act Now!), Alcohol,  Tobacco & Other Drugs Prevention (It’s UR Choice), and Nutrition and Physical Activity (Mission:  Health). Find more information at Healthykidslearnmore.com.

To speak with a Children’s Wisconsin e-learning representative, email healthykids@chw.org.

Updated User Experience Highlights the Benefits of Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges

Wisconsin Technical College System

We’re proud to roll out a refreshed logo and redesigned user experience at WTCSystem.edu as part of an effort to continuously share the benefits of  Wisconsin’s world-class technical colleges.

The site now includes comprehensive information for prospective students and those who influence important college decisions, information previously maintained at wistechcolleges.org. This collaborative project is a joint effort of the Wisconsin Technical Colleges Marketing Consortium and the WTCS Office of Strategic Advancement.

At the redesigned WTCSystem.edu, scroll over each of the following headings and you’ll find:

Colleges

Dedicated overview pages for each of Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges, including links to college sites – users can select a college to filter site content

Programs

Access to the highly-regarded “Career Quiz” to identify interest areas; a robust, searchable database of WTCS program offerings; descriptions of other tech college offerings; and the opportunity to request additional information including the annual guidebook, brochures for high school and middle school students, and more

Technical College Benefits

A detailed accounting of what makes a technical college education valuable and possible, including information on financial aid availability

Workforce Solutions

Valuable information for employers, and about the System’s employer engagement

Impact

Features WTCS Publications, priorities, newsroom, e-newsletter sign-up and more

About

Information about the System’s Mission, Vision and Values, as well as the WTCS Board, System Office, employment opportunities, staff directory and more

Please visit and explore the site and share this valuable resource throughout your networks. If you experience broken links or cannot find what you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to reach out to info@wtcsystem.edu

You can also continue to engage with us on existing social media channels:

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

LinkedIn

Instagram

Legislative Updates: FAFSA Filing Status in WISEdash for Districts Memo in response to WSCA Advocacy, Collaboration, and Partnership with DPI

FAFSA Filing Status in WISEdash for Districts Memo in response to WSCA Advocacy, Collaboration, and Partnership with DPI 

WSCA is excited to share a memo that was sent to all district administrators by DPI this morning encouraging districts to opt in to the FAFSA data sharing agreement and grant school counselors access to this data.  WSCA encourages high school counselors to request the Economic FAFSA Access to best help your students needing additional support and services (fee waivers, scholarships, etc.). 

If you would like additional information about FAFSA Student Level Data, check out the WSCA online learning program session, Financial Aid – FAFSA Student Level Data from November 11, 2021. 

Conference Information & Updates: Registration opens March 15th!

Speak Up Speak Out Resource Center Update

Since September 2020, the Speak Up, Speak Out (SUSO) Resource Center has received more than 1,000 tips and helped deploy mental health resources and welfare checks to multiple students. SUSO offers a 24/7 threat reporting system, threat assessment consultation, critical incident response, and general school safety guidance.

To add this 24/7 threat reporting system to your school, complete the following steps:

  1. Submit contact information: To be forwarded any tips submitted regarding your school, the contact information for one recipient from your school must be submitted to the threat reporting system. Submit information here: https://speakup.widoj.gov/update-school-contact-information
  2. Attend a webinar: Learn what SUSO is, what resources are available, how to access $500 to purchase promo materials, and a train-the-trainer course that reviews curriculum for elementary, middle, and high school students. 

Click the video below to see how the SUSO threat reporting system works.

Find more information at https://speakup.widoj.gov/ or contact schoolsafety@doj.state.wi.us with questions.

Online Learning Updates: Request for Feedback, Comprehensive Session List

Counselor Connections: Leadership Academy Applications, Summer Academy Save the Date, WSCA Ambassador Program, FAFSA Completion Event, SUSO Resource Center Update