In This Issue:
A Message from the WSCA Executive Director
A Message from the WSCA Board
Feature Article: Alumni Speak: What I needed from my School Counselor
Free Career and College Planning Resources
Did you know: Wisconsin Technical College System
Legislative Update – DPI Pubic Input – Mental Health Funding
National School Counseling Week
WI Technical College Survey
ASCA National Model Helpful Tips
Save the Date: Fall Summit & Summer Academy
WSCA Volunteers Needed
2019-20 Leadership Academy
Celebrating National School Counseling Week
Stacy Eslick, WSCA Executive Director
Do you remember when you were younger and so excited to celebrate your birthday every year? Perhaps you had a party outside of school or just had the chance to bring a special treat to school. When working in schools it was so much fun seeing the excitement of my students sharing their special day!
For many years I never celebrated National School Counseling Week (NSCW). My administration never mentioned it and I had the mind set that if no one else took the time to acknowledge NSCW, then why should I. As I continued my journey of implementing the ASCA model I realized that celebrating NSCW is a critical element to demonstrate advocacy for my counseling program. NSCW is NOT National School Counseling APPRECIATION week. Many counselors feel that their administrators, parents and co-workers should be honoring them during this week. While some counselors are lucky enough to have education colleagues that do this, it is important to recognize the difference between having a dedicated week to raise awareness about our profession versus having a week of being appreciated for being a counselor.
Once I realized that NSCW was about advocacy and awareness my perspective on this week changed drastically. It gave me the forum to educate administrators, teachers, students and families about the many facets of my counseling program.
.WSCA and ASCA have templates and resources to help you celebrate NSCW. Check out the great templates from the WSCA Public Relations Director, Mindy Willard, on the WSCA website. For all of you with a creative streak, there is a plethora of ideas and resources on Pinterest, Counselor Facebook pages and ASCAscene.
WSCA is excited to be celebrating NSCW with over 1000 counselors at our annual conference. I urge all my Wisconsin school counselor colleagues to take this opportunity and celebrate YOUR profession. If not you, who?
Adriana Plach, WSCA Board Chair
Greetings WSCA! As counselors we often find the winter months to be a long, exhausting time of the year. At WSCA, however, it is one of the most exciting times as we gear up for our conference! During the first week of January, the Board of Directors reconvened to continue our work.
Our focus during this weekend was two-fold: first, we engaged in intense board conversations. We examined reports on how we support our members and volunteers and how we make sure that the organization uses its funds appropriately, with our end mission (called our Ends) in mind. In addition, we engaged in critical conversations about how we (the nine Directors on the Board) appropriately and authentically represent counselors from all backgrounds, all regions, and all perspectives. This is incredibly important to all of our board members, and we are taking measures to make sure that this organization represents ALL the counselors in Wisconsin. We recognize that the needs and resources of our counselors vary significantly across the state, and we are striving to ensure that we are comprehensive in how we support our members. One of the ways in which we do this is through a Board Listening Session during our conference. On Wednesday during lunch, all of the board members will be waiting to hear from you! We invite you to join our group, and discuss what life is like for you as a counselor in your district, from your unique perspective. Last year we held this session, and the response was incredible. It was a great way to hear your voice, and we will be ready to listen again this year!
Our second focus during our board weekend was our conference! The Board Directors heard from the Directors of Operations – the incredible counselors who make the conference come to life! There are countless hours that go into creating and making our conference happen, and through the work of many, it seems like magic. It’s no surprise that our conference is so well-attended when so much heart and soul goes into the planning and delivery. Of all of the professional development I have experienced in 13+ years in education, it is still my favorite.
During the conference it is “all hands on deck” for the Board of Directors and the Directors of Operation. Look for us to be wearing WSCA apparel which will make us easily identifiable if you need assistance or have a question. We are here to help provide you with an amazing time of learning, sharing, and reconnecting with your passion and purpose as a counselor.
Don’t forget – we invite you to join us for informal (but very important!) conversations during lunch on Wednesday. Please join us for our Board Listening Session – we want to hear from you!
WSCA Board Chair
“What I needed from my School Counselor”
By Zoe Ellerbusch and Alyssa Pon-Franklin
Anyone who has attended WSCA knows the difficulty of trying to find the hidden gem sectionals amidst all of the important content: the one that make a direct link to your daily struggles in counseling the neediest students and families. I found a gem in the late afternoon slot on Wednesday that has stuck with me every day since. Kim Gary, former MMSD East High School Counselor and AVID elective teacher, brought candor, humor, and even her former students into the session: Counseling the 1st Generation College Bound Student.
Kim spent the first half of the sectional discussing her philosophy of counseling students through their journey to college and emphasized what every counselor knows: the relationship with the student is core to all else. However, it was how she drew us in and gave examples of why relationships were important that was echoed again and again by her students during the second half of the sectional. She put up slides with the hardest student names she had to learn and asked us to take a crack at the pronunciation. She did this to illustrate the steps she took to be able to show her students she was invested in them, every day in the hallway addressing them by name. Many times, students with unfamiliar names feel pressure to choose nicknames, accept incorrect pronunciation, or change their name entirely. Kao Moua Her echoed this sentiment at the WSCA Summer Academy a few years ago; your name is central to who you are. By taking the time to (correctly) address our students by name (and encouraging other staff to do the same), we show students respect and help them grow confidence in their identity.
During the second half of the session, Kim invited her East High School alumni to the stage, many of whom provide testimonials in her recent book, H.S. Counseling Wisdom: Relentegrity-the Relentless Pursuit of Integrity. This portion of the session motivated me to go to work the day after the conference. It reminded me of why I am doing the job I am doing. It reminded me of simple but important things like actually listening to students and responding in a genuine way. After introductions, Kim asked each student to answer the question: “As a first generation college-bound student, what did you need from your school counselor?” Some highlights of the student responses were:
- “College dream wasn’t enforced at home; Ms. Gary became my mom, she pushed me to do stuff, built trust.”
- “She was like my mom.”
- “I needed honesty and someone to listen, she put her stuff away and just listened, she gave advice based on personal experience, her honesty was key–she was straight up and blunt. Don’t just say ‘everything is going to be ok’ ; you have to have a plan for it to be ok.”
- “She believed in me.”
- “Reach out to your students as early as possible, I didn’t know anything: what courses to take, what a GPA was etc. Establish relationship first. Try to get to know each student, their background, and their culture.”
- “Be the extra push; don’t give in.”
- “She helped me understand my self-worth.”
The student voices impressed upon me the importance of connecting early, being genuine, and not sugarcoating the truth of their situation. The reality is that it IS harder for first generation college-bound students for many reasons that we all know too well. However, what the students brought up as most valuable was not the logistics (e.g. walking them through each step of the FAFSA (although that is important too!)), but instead being real with them about how hard they will have to work, being consistent, giving repeated reminders, and forming a trusting relationship. The students’ main points are also found in the book, Ready, Willing; and Able, A Developmental Approach to College Access and Success, which offers a paradigm shift in counseling for college readiness.
Many times, when we work with students, it is tempting to see challenging behaviors as just that: behavior. However, when we dig beneath the surface, we discover the reasons for the behaviors and are able to build those trusting relationships that are central to building success in our students. The student who is not completing homework may have home responsibilities preventing them from dedicating time to their studies. The student falling asleep in class may be up early, getting their siblings to school, or working late into the night to help pay bills. The student acting out in class may have a history of trauma that is affecting their ability to focus and concentrate. Through students’ stories and advice, Kim impressed on us the importance of listening to our students and meeting them where they are at. When we take the time to look beneath our students outward behaviors, we remind our students of their worth and create meaningful connections that encourage our students to persevere.
I am grateful for the students’ voices and the continued learning they have prompted me to do. A copy of Kim’s book sits in our student services library for me to refer to whenever I need a reminder of why. As we take time to recharge through WSCA’s conference next week, I encourage you to take a few minutes to think about your why.
Gary, Kim. H.S. Counseling Wisdom: Relentegrity-the Relentless Pursuit of Integrity. Kim
L.D.Z. Gary Madison, 2016. Print.
Savitz-Romer, Mandy, Suzanne Bouffard. Ready, Willing; And Able A Developmental Approach to College Access and Success. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2014. Print.
It is finally here, the 2019 WSCA Annual Conference! Come and see firsthand what the Power of Hope can do for School Counseling Professionals February 5-7, 2019 in Madison WI. There is still time if you have not yet registered onsite registration is available!
New this year!
FREE parking at Alliant Energy Center will be provided so you won’t have to worry about bringing cash for the parking lot. Convenient shuttle service runs from the parking lot and area hotels directly to the Monona Terrace. Just park, hop on the shuttle and enjoy the view of Lake Monona as you gear up for the conference experience. View parking and shuttle info HERE.
Don’t Delay, Make Your Plans to Attend the WSCA Conference Today!