July 2024

Table of Contents

A Message from the WSCA Executive Director

My family and colleagues often tease me that I share too many details when sharing a story or experience. To that end, I’m keeping it short and simple for you this July!

So with that I say, 

“Hello Summer – Do More of What You Love!”

~Stacy Eslick

Featured Member Benefit: 

On-Demand Learning Archive

We did it! We made it through another school year! Summer is a time to take a breath, relax, and recharge. But for many of us, summer is also a time to reflect on our previous year and think ahead to the upcoming year. Whether you have identified areas where you would like to dive deeper or are excited to learn how to move your school counseling program forward, the Online Learning Program On-Demand library has what you need!

The Online Learning Program, a free and valuable benefit of your WSCA membership, allows counselors to access high-quality professional development. Check out sessions you may have missed live, or revisit the sessions that were jam-packed with resources you are ready to implement. The On-Demand library has over 100 previously recorded sessions by national and local experts, sorted by topic and grade level, making it easy to find just what you are looking for.

Looking to organize your school counseling program? Check out the Data Series for mini-sessions on different parts of the ASCA National Model! Looking for ways to support all of your students? Check out the many sessions focused on supporting all students and working towards systemic change. Or spend some time brushing up on resources to help your students struggling with their mental health, finding ideas on supporting career readiness with your students, or brushing up on your ethics with ASCA Ethics Expert Dr. Carolyn Stone. Whatever your need, this summer, WSCA’s Online Learning Program can help plan YOUR unique professional development experience from the comfort and convenience of your home, cabin, beach chair, or wherever you prefer!

Access the Archive Now!

A Message from the WSCA Board of Directors

As another school year comes to an end, I personally and professionally want to thank you all, school counselors, WSCA members & board members, Stacy and Nicole, affiliates, partners, and those change agents who work with us to provide the learning, experience, and awareness that help students set goals, take risks, and ready themselves for their future life. You all do a phenomenal job in a difficult arena. Our job requires that we routinely offer help and assistance, regularly manage crisis situations, teach and encourage, support and listen many times a day. This is challenging work and some of the most rewarding, satisfying, and humbling work an individual can pursue. Thank you for the good, good work you do every day with students. And please acknowledge and remember the good work you do in the lives of your students, families, community and school partners.

As I looked for some inspiration to share with you, I found an article by Shakima (Kima) Tozay, MSW, LICSW, CCM, PMH-C, CDP from Washington state. Her article is titled, Going Beyond Luxuries: 5 Ways to Recharge and Practice Self-care as Champions of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I believe all school counselors are champions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Every school year you provide students with the opportunities to learn and practice how to achieve their life dreams and goals. This summer take care of you; come back this fall with renewed energy, focus, and health. Read her short article and try her L.E.A.D.(tm) self-reflection method which includes answering the following 4 questions or journal prompts. My hope is when reflecting on past experiences and success you gain a renewed understanding of who you are, where you are going, and how you want to get there… my hope for you is that wherever you are on your career path you find a little time to reflect which may give a perspective of gratitude and hope. Gratitude for an amazing profession and the opportunity to help students every day in the many amazing ways you do. Let’s remember there is no greater feeling in the world than having a career that allows you to leave such a positive impact on so many people.

L (Leadership): What are 3 ways you demonstrated leadership this past week, month, or year?

E (Encouragement): What 3 things have kept you encouraged during challenging times?

A (Accomplishment): List 3 accomplishments you’ve made that you are proud of.

D (Discovery): Name 3 discoveries you’ve made (about yourself, someone else, or a situation).

As you reflect on your upcoming summer vacation, remind yourself of the good work you do for students and others, remind yourself of your amazing leadership abilities and talents, and take the time to reflect on your life’s work and the good you are doing for yourself and others. We are lucky to have you, your students are lucky to have you; and as we continue to create a future world where all students thrive, may you relax and enjoy your summer break! Have a fantastic summer, good work this year, and be well!

DPI Connections

New Legislative District Maps

DPI released new legislative district maps that are available to help you determine your school district’s new legislative boundaries created under 2023 Act 94.  In some cases, legislative districts have changed significantly, so please take a moment to review any changes that apply to your district/region.  You can find the new maps here.

Wisconsin Student Assessment System- Updated Asset-Based Performance Levels

After extensive engagement with internal and external education partners, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is updating terminology used to describe student performance levels on statewide standardized assessments. Performance level descriptors provide information to parents, guardians, educators, and others about student achievement relative to grade-level expectations. View a handout on the updates here.

Feature Article – Three-Part Counselor Leaders Planning Series

Three-Part Counselor Leaders Planning Series

Reflect and Reset!

By: Rick Hudson, Prairie View Middle School, 23-24 Mary Gehrke-McAllister Leadership Award Recipient

It can’t always be an “Emergency”: Using Data to Create a Proactive Program

By: Cindy Bourget, Elk Mound Middle School, 22-23 School Counselor of the Year

Three Tips for Planning Elementary Small Groups for the Upcoming School Year

By: Shelbey Deegan, Forest Edge Elementary, 23-24 Rising Star Recipient

Reflect and Reset!

Summer is the ideal time to reflect on the previous school year. It’s also the ideal time to self-assess our own mindsets and behaviors as we look forward to the next school year. With the potential impending stress of another divisive presidential election and continued national polarization and traumatic events, it is even more important to make time now for grounding and centering oneself personally and professionally before a new school year begins. Perhaps the first step in this process is gaining a greater awareness of oneself. 

Among the mindsets and behaviors found in the ASCA School Counselor Professional Standards & Competencies is the foundational behavior of “demonstrating understanding of the impact of cultural, social and environmental influences on student success and opportunities by being able to understand personal limitations and biases, and articulate how they may affect the school counselor’s work (Footnote 1).”  Similarly, one of the foundational layers of the Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies (MSJCC) framework is counselor self-awareness (Footnote 2). 

So how do we go about learning more about ourselves and, specifically, our biases?

First, pause all stimuli heard and seen through media and social media. Now, return to your stimuli and reflect on what “the algorithm” is feeding you. What do you notice? How have you been pigeon-holed into a certain echo chamber which reinforces your own preferences and biases?

Next, use a tool such as Project Implicit’s Implicit Association Test (IAT) (Footnote 3). Though not without its critics (Footnote 4) and critiques (Footnote 5), it may prove helpful in uncovering what was already below the surface. Be mindful of the reactions you have toward the uncomfortable and controversial. Using this insight, do the challenging work of confronting and questioning your thoughts and actions. As Jedi Master Yoda said in Star Wars Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Being aware is key to unlearning our biases and rewiring our brain (Footnote 6).

Now, use the aforementioned MSJCC framework to rewire your own explored attitudes and beliefs with the knowledge, understanding, and skills needed to meet the realities of our students and their caregivers. Sometimes less is more and if you’re crunched for time, consider using the Courageous Conversation Compass as a simple yet powerful tool for self and student awareness. This personal navigation tool “helps us to know where we are personally as well as recognize the direction from which others may be” and “helps us to locate the sources of our emotions and actions or lack thereof (Footnote 7).”

The process of counselor self-awareness is ongoing and continuous (Footnote 8). It must be so to meet the needs of our wide-ranging and ever-changing client base (students and their families/caregivers) and is our ethical responsibility (Footnote 9). This professional growth will help your students or clients to experience empathy and advocacy as you show them unconditional positive regard. In the midst of our polarized social and political environment, the question is: how would you react and treat a hardcore opposite who walks through your door?


  1. ASCA School Counselor Professional Standards & Competencies: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/getmedia/a8d59c2c-51de-4ec3-a565-a3235f3b93c3/SC-Competencies.pdf
  2. American Counseling Association: https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/competencies/multicultural-and-social-justice-counseling-competencies.pdf
  3. Implicit Association Test: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
  4. Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rabble-rouser/202203/12-reasons-be-skeptical-common-claims-about-implicit-bias
  5. OSFHome – Articles Critical of the IAT and Implicit Bias: https://osf.io/74whk/
  6. American Psychological Association Podcasts – Speaking of Psychology: Can we unlearn implicit biases? With Mahzarin Banaji, PhD:  https://www.apa.org/news/podcasts/speaking-of-psychology/implicit-biases
  7. Prairie View Middle School, The Scoop, April 2024 by Bridget Barth:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nofnkp_sgvS2KHIW6M6OnIqQv8NPm2eSDcur1X4xMSY/edit?usp=sharing
  8. A Path of Counselor Self-Awareness: https://digitalcommons.montclair.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=counseling-facpubs
  9. ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/getmedia/44f30280-ffe8-4b41-9ad8-f15909c3d164/EthicalStandards.pdf

It Can’t Always Be An “Emergency”: Using Data to Create a Proactive Program

“What do you do?” As a school counselor, I am constantly trying to answer that question. It can feel like I’m trying to speak a different language– all while dealing with the seemingly never ending list of, “emergencies.” That’s where I was 6 years ago: changing schools because I was so overwhelmed, questioning my decision to be a counselor, and lost in the myth that I was failing because I couldn’t “fix students.” 

Data saved me. I know this sounds dramatic, but it really did. As I started my work in my new school, I knew I needed to do something differently. I couldn’t constantly be living an, “emergency.” I turned to the ASCA Model, and with the support of the training, I was able to start small by looking for data that supported solutions for the things that were taking most of my time: discipline. 

The school counselor had turned into the person to deal with “behavior problems.” So instead of proactively working on skills, students were ending up in my office when the teachers didn’t know where else to send them. No one was happy. Everyone was struggling to learn. It was always an, “emergency.” 

As I started to look at the discipline data, I used the questions: 

  • Who? Who is involved in this concern?
  • Why? Why is this a concern?
  • What? What do we need to fix the problem?

Looking at the concern in that way made the issue feel manageable. In the case of discipline, I discovered 7th and 8th grade boys were earning 80% of our discipline referrals (The “who”). And when I looked deeper, 10% of those boys were earning 30% of the discipline referrals. This also meant that 10% of our 7th and 8th grade boys were missing large portions of time in their classroom instruction (The “why”). So I developed a small group for impulse control, which I ran for 2 sessions of 6 meetings each (The “What”).

After group, the boys were able to drop their rates of discipline referrals by 27%! Not only did that help the boys gain the skills they needed to stay in class, it opened up my schedule to meet the needs of all of my students. By running this group annually, I have been able to shift my practice from reactive to proactive.

It has also connected me to my community in a way I didn’t anticipate. All I did was use the data I could pull from my Student Information System to track student growth, but when I shared the success with the parents of my group members they became my biggest supporters. It reminded me that when I share what I do, I need to speak, “parent.” As a parent, what would I want to know? The answer is always, “Show me how this is helping my student succeed.” In this instance, it was helping their students not get discipline referrals in the beginning, but it turned into their students feeling success in school and engaging in their school community. They talked about their students’ success, and now I have boys who ask to be in my groups. 

As you think about your upcoming year, I encourage you to look at the areas of your program that are causing you the most stress–creating the “emergencies,”– and attack it with data. Use the data sources you already have to ask, “Who? Why? What?” Share your story. Let your student success answer the question, “What do you do?”

Three Tips for Planning Elementary Small Groups for the Upcoming School Year

Summer is an important, rejuvenating time for school counselors in which we can all take some time to breathe, turn inwards, and think about something other than work for a while. I hope you have all found relaxation, started to restore some energy in looking ahead to the next school year, and are maybe ready to start thinking about making some preparations! One of our important duties as counselors is providing skill/community building in small groups, and now is a great time to reflect on your processes. Here are three tips:

Tip 1: Intentional reflection on your small group process. Think about the small group process from beginning to end, from the way students are identified for groups, how you get consent from parents or guardians, what curriculum you select, and how you evaluate its effectiveness. Consider gathering with your collaborators (other Student Services team staff or administrators) and discuss the following:

  • How do we identify students for groups? Is it through referral only, or are we using some kind of data? 
  • Did we run too many groups last year? Not enough?
  • How did I select curriculum for my groups? Are they ASCA-aligned and evidence based?
  • Is scheduling groups a burden? Can I connect with grade-level teachers ahead of time to get 1-3 “best times” for the upcoming year?

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I recommend picking one of the aspects of small group planning to improve or reflect on.

Tip 2: Pull relevant data. We’re all in different stages in our relationships to incorporating data-driven practices, and it can feel overwhelming. 

  • Perhaps try running just one small group next year where you are using outcome data (academic, disciplinary, or attendance) to identify students, and giving a pre and post test grounded in ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors. 
  • Have your administrator or administrative assistant help you pull attendance and disciplinary reports from your school’s student information system. How can you use this to plan?
    • Example: For the 23-24 school year, I planned a 5th grade Leadership Small group to start right away in the Fall for boys with the most disciplinary referrals in 4th grade. 

Tip 3: Consider adding ONE new aspect to your small groups for the 2024-2025 school year. Start small! This could be swapping out a curriculum you have used for a new one that is evidence-based, taking one small group curriculum and selecting ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors, adding in a pre and post test, or using outcome data, such as social skill measures on report cards, to track group effectiveness. 

Regardless of where you are at in your programs and emotionally after this year, know that you are an agent of change and that you are cherished by your students. I am wishing all Wisconsin school counselors the very best of luck in preparing for next year, and in enjoying the rest of your summer!

ASCA Connections

ASCA Elections

The following are the candidate statements for those members running for election to ASCA’s board of directors. ASCA voting members should have received information in an email about voting online.  The election runs May 15–July 16, 2024.

ASCA 2025 Annual Conference Proposal Submission Portal Open

Have an idea for a 2025 ASCA Annual Conference session? Submit your proposals by Aug. 25, 2024.

ASCA Annual Conference

Can’t attend the ASCA Annual Conference July 13-16, 2024, in Kansas City, check out the virtual option

You Spoke, We Listened

Legislative Updates

Legislative and Advocacy Updates for July 2024

Governor Evers Signed 11 Bills That Impact School Districts Into Law

As the legislative session ended this spring, Governor Evers signed 11 education related bills into law and issued a veto on another.  These bills include raising safety standards, broadening a tech-ed grant program, educator licensing, changes to certain aspects of Act 20 training and screener requirements, and numerous stocking medication bills.

Most relevant to school counseling is Assembly Bill 251, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 196: Tier-1 Licensing for Marriage and Family Therapists.  This modifies Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) administrative rules to allow the state superintendent to issue a new type of two-year Tier I renewable license for a clinically trained marriage and family therapist; and States that this license would not allow the individual to work as a school social worker or school counselor, who are separately licensed.

Read about all the bills here.

2024-2025 Professional Development

Counselor Connections

Conference Information & Updates

Members Corner