November 2020

In This Issue:


Stacy Eslick
WSCA Executive Director

Dear WSCA members, 

We are missing you this week and sad that we were not able to see everyone at the WSCA annual conference in the Dells due to COVID.  The 2020 conference theme of Change was apt with the new venue and dates.  As 2020 continues to throw not just education but the entire world into a constant state of change, it is time to retire this year’s theme with hopes for the future.  The 2021 conference theme is reUNITED, One Community, Together Again.  We are looking to reUNITING with our counselor colleagues from across the state.  Join us now as we build virtual communities with the greatest hope that we will in fact be together again in person at the November 2021 conference.

With all of the change it is easy to become numb with the focus on getting through the day.  We would encourage you to take some small steps towards reuniting with your counselor colleagues.  One of the greatest things about conference is connecting and being recharged from being around other counselors that “get us”.  We build each other up and support each other through the hard times.  Right now is “hard times”, we need to come together as a counseling community to get through this.  Please continue to stay engaged and connected, you are not alone and we are better together.  

~Stacy


Megan Williams, Board Member
School Counselor, Milwaukee, WI

We are currently living during a period that will likely be studied for years to come. As studies begin and surveys are conducted, we brace ourselves, waiting to see what impact these experiences will have on our lives for generations to come. Many have started to refer to what we have been experiencing as a “double pandemic.” We are getting by, day by day, hoping to avoid exposure to both covid and racism.

The rise in awareness has been helpful. Masks are being worn, temperatures are being checked, and hands are washed frequently to reduce our exposure to the virus. Books are being read, conversations are being had, and signs are being displayed in front lawns to reduce our exposure to racism. Yet this underlying sense of unease prevails. Why is that?

It’s because we’re not out of the woods yet. We need to develop the antibodies that will prevent us from contracting the virus should we contact it; we need a vaccine. Until we have the vaccine, this virus will likely continue to spread. We need deliberate and intentional efforts to disrupt the status quo when we come in contact with it. Until there is reform, racism will continue to spread. We need antiracism.

Our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) suffer from daily exposure to racism and its counterparts: microaggressions, biases, and stereotypes. Whether it be overt or covert, conscious or subconscious, institutional or personal, racism in all forms is harmful to those exposed to it. Being BIPOC is a risk factor, making many of our students, families, and students vulnerable to the experience of racial trauma.

What can you do to help?

Examine and explore your own biases. Harvard.edu offers an implicit bias test that could help you uncover and explore biases you may have been unaware of. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Learn more about racial trauma and useful resources. https://www.mhanational.org/racial-trauma

Check out the tips offered in this NPR article. https://www.npr.org/2020/08/24/905515398/not-racist-is-not-enough-putting-in-the-work-to-be-anti-racist

We will all get through this together! Stay strong!

Take care,

~Megan Williams

WSCA needs a Board of Directors with diverse perspectives that provides leadership and vision to ensure that it stays relevant for its members.  WSCA has a long history of being a great School Counselor Association, benefiting from a tradition of great leadership.

WSCA invites you to apply to be a Board Director!  If you are looking for a professional leadership opportunity that will expand your understanding of the impact of the school counseling profession, then we encourage you to submit an application this year.  

If you are considering applying for the WSCA Board and would like to learn more about what is expected of a WSCA Board member, please join us for a virtual Q & A informational session at 7pm on Monday, Nov. 30th.  Save this link in your calendar:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85844251039?pwd=dDF6U2RzWlIzVVFYOGxCeW5QSDIvdz09

Please CLICK HERE to access the application for the WSCA Board of Directors.  Applications are due by Dec. 18, 2020.  



Thinking Outside the Box to Create Sustainable Community Partnerships
Brooke Davis
School Counselor, DC Everest Senior High

We all are experiencing stress during this challenging time so it is important to look at areas within our community that can help to support our students and families. An imperative variable to consider is, how do we build these partnerships and maintain the relationships so that students, families, schools and the community can benefit for years to come?

A few years ago I asked myself this question as it pertains to mental health, specifically students who internalize their emotions which makes it very hard for others to identify that they are struggling. A coworker and myself researched screening tools that would identify various internalizing behaviors that may identify a student as having suicidal ideations. As our research and project development continued we realized that we, as a school district, could not do this alone. We needed outside collaboration from community groups to help support possible mental health screener outcomes and also data interpretation. This is where our partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin began. Below are some variables to consider when developing sustainable partnerships to support your building, project and/or district goals.

Identifying the Goals
It is important to continuously come back to the goals and mission of the project that you and your team are working on. It is easy to drift away from the group’s original goal and lose sight of the mission and vision of the group. At times this may seem like the team is taking a step back by doing this, but in the long run, it will actually clarify the mission and vision to those outside of the team and also help to draw support from other organizations and key stakeholders. By having this as a solid foundation, agencies and groups outside of the school system are more likely to invest in the initiative.

Community Supports
Now that the mission, vision and goals of the team have been established, it is time to identify organizations and individuals within the community that may be interested in hearing about and supporting your goals. It is often surprising how similar our community groups and agencies truly are. For example, through community connections we learned that the Medical College of Wisconsin has a class for their medical students entitled “Physicians in the Community” in which students are required to partner with a community agency or group to support a project plan. Our partnership with MCW has evolved into a sustained partnership in which they play a large role in data interpretation with our mental health screener. In addition, we are also in development in another project that supports our mental health goals for our school district.

Moving Forward
As our district counseling departments have reflected on our accomplishments we are proud to be a part of a growing team. Since our partnerships with community stakeholders, we have increased our counselors at the middle school/junior high level. Not only has increased partnerships and collaboration benefited our school district it has also allowed us to share our data with other organizations in the area. We have had opportunities to present our findings across the county, the state and also at the national level. Who would have thought community partnerships and reporting of data would be so powerful! Please challenge yourself to think outside the box and search for connections within the community for sustainable partnerships that will support your program and also help you to meet your professional goals.


 

Innovative, Collaborative After-School Program Helps Kids with Social, Emotional Learning
Randy Neve
Community Health manager, Center for Community Health Advancement, Marshfield Clinic Health System;
& Nicole Crosby
School Counselor, School District of Winter

A mental health collaboration between an integrated Wisconsin health care system and rural school districts is helping at-risk youth access social and emotional resources.

“Life Tools,” the brainchild of a Marshfield Clinic Health System clinical child/adolescent psychologist, started with staff from Youth Net through the Health System’s Center for Community Health Advancement (CCHA). CCHA works with many community partners to address health needs through continuous assessments to identify gaps, develop and implement evidence-based or promising practice programs and evaluate intervention effectiveness.

Emotions can be hard to control for children and affect every part of their lives. Life Tools was developed to help them identify what they feel, how strong the feeling is and ways to manage feelings. Parents receive a summary of each meeting’s activities explaining tools shared each day and how they can help children try strategies at home.

Life Tools offers eight sessions for small groups of kids, ages 8-14, recommended to Life Tools based on need for extra social and emotional guidance. The program teaches mindfulness, coping, communication and emotional fitness strategies. With the program in a group setting, kids can learn from one another and group facilitators.

The end goal is to:

  • empower kids, giving them the ability to manage emotions and experience confidence in having, improving, expressing and managing emotions while building esteem and capability
  • empower families
  • provide staff with tools that could be reinforced outside of groups

In fall 2019, Neve and CCHA collaboratively partnered and piloted the program in Phillips and Park Falls school districts, then later expanded to Chippewa Falls, Winter, Prentice, Spooner, Cornell, Wautoma and Nekoosa school districts. The Health System does a formal memorandum with each district with funding to pay an additional stipend to the school counselor and facilitator since the program is held outside the regular school day.

The Winter School District school Counselor, Nicole Crosby, found the easy-to-use curriculum made running groups more purposeful in school. There was common language across all settings, from group to classroom and beyond, and information was very practical for classroom teachers to use.

Nicole found the program’s biggest positives were:

  • students could connect new information they learned to their everyday lives, practicing in the “real world”
  • parents being able to follow up, helping messages “stick” better with their children
  • at the end of group sessions, students had individualized “toolkits” to use to help themselves in tough situations
  • counselors’ ability to connect with a child psychologist

It’s possible to infuse concepts taught in the group into everything done with students, teach to a specific concept, tool or strategy when working with a student one on one and in large-group lessons, too. Having Tools in the “back pocket” is helpful whenever needed. Because the program is full of best practice and based in research, this work is more purposeful and directed.

Partnerships with school districts are working very well and the program is making a difference. Counselors who want to learn more may contact Neve at neve.randy@marshfieldclinic.org.



ENDS Policy Update
Stacy Eslick, Wisconsin School Counselor Association

WSCA has intentionally been committed to equity and cultural competency since July 2015 when the board outlined that “School counselors are knowledgeable about equity and culturally responsive practices.” as one of the organizational sub ENDS (aspirational goals).  WSCA leaders have increasingly added equity into our professional development, newsletters and resources over the past five years.  

The board has made minor adjustments to the ENDS the past few years while engaging in  continued learning and discussion around the topic of equity.  At the October 2020 board meeting the board approved changes to the ENDS that prioritize equity as the core to being a highly effective counselor. 

The Wisconsin School Counselor Association exists so there are conditions enabling Wisconsin School Counselors to practice with the highest level of effectiveness using an equity lens to the extent that justifies available resources. 

  1. School counselors (active and pre-service) have the knowledge necessary for effective school counseling practices to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive school counseling programs.

1-A School Counselors have the knowledge about  current ethical and professional practices and their application.

1-B School counselors are knowledgeable about trends in school counseling and education. 

1-C School counselors are knowledgeable about leadership and advocacy principles. 

1-D School counselors are knowledgeable about equitable and culturally responsive practices.

  1. Key Stakeholders (including but not limited to) school administrators, policy makers, and community members will understand the impact made by the school counselor implementing a comprehensive school counseling program.

We want you to know that we take this directive from the board very seriously and recognize it will take continued intentionality, time and resources to build into everything we do.  You may have noticed some of the steps that we have already taken:  

  • WSCAlink has an equity section in every issue with equity woven throughout the monthly themes
  • Dedicated Equity “track” in our professional development offerings
  • All WSCA presenters must answer the following prompt, “How will your presentation include an equity lens to the important work that counselors provide?”
  • Racial equity training by national experts
  • Special Interest Group (SIG) for Counselors of Color
  • Engaging in conversations with Counselor Educators on how we can support increasing a more diverse pipeline of future counselors
  • Racial equity taskforce to inform and provide feedback

Please reach out to Stacy Eslick if you would like to get involved in our equity work.  We are seeking a diverse group of counselors to help us guide this work. 


Planning High School Courses with Careers in Mind
Rachel Aldrich, Functional Analyst – Transfer Credit, Fox Valley Technical College

In todays’ world, the opportunities for education are growing and the options for students are growing as well. Students in middle school and high school have the availability to complete courses that will meet high school credit as well as college credit. Imagine graduating from high school and having

Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin. FVTC offers more than 240 associate degree, technical diploma and certificate programs, and instruction related to 16 apprenticeship trades, in addition to providing services to business and industry. The college serves about 50,000 people annually, more than any other technical college in Wisconsin.

courses complete that will earn credit at colleges and universities! Many students are navigating this track by way of programs such as Start College Now (formerly Youth Options), Dual Credit, CAPP Courses, AP Exams, and many other avenues.

At Fox Valley Technical College, we are stepping up and meeting this need for students and helping them begin their post high school education while in high school making the transition smooth. Many agreements have been created between the high school and FVTC allowing students to earn a technical diploma while in high school and carry those earned credits towards an associate degree post high school. These pathways have been developed to allow for early exposure to the career field while completing high school requirements. 

But why stop there? After completing the technical diploma and associate degree, FVTC has many agreements in place with four-year public and private universities as well, paving the path for further education and college degrees. It can all begin while in high school! 

To assist students with their planning, UW Colleges and WTCS Colleges implemented Transferology, a tool that allows students to see where their earned credits will transfer to any college in Wisconsin, or other colleges in the United States. Transferology is easy to use and will not only help students see where credits will transfer, it will also give users detailed information about the college and a contact for transfer admissions. By entering completed coursework and any industry testing completed (such as Advanced Placement-AP Exams), students can see the course equivalencies at many universities. Transferology will be a great resource for students in planning their education. 

Contact your local technical college for more information on credit while in high school, Transferology and how to navigate, or pathways for education.