National School Counseling Week 2021

Category : Academics

Celebrate School Counselors During National School Counseling Week

Monday , February 01 , 2021

A guidance counselor working with a stuent

National School Counseling Week 2021, “School Counselors: All in for All Students,” sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), will be celebrated from Feb. 1–5, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. 

The special week honoring school counselors provides recognition for school counselors who implement comprehensive school counseling programs, a vital part of the educational process for all students as they meet the challenges of the 21st century.

In PVSchools, counselors at the middle and high school levels work with students to examine their strengths, interests, and talents to identify personal career interests. “Once students become excited about their possible career and postsecondary options, they become more optimistic about their academics, participate more fully in school activities, and understand that their organization and time management skills have relevance,” said Mary Harris, a lead counselor.

The Expanded Role of A School Counselor

School counselors of today are much different from guidance counselors from the past. They are in the classrooms, use technology, use data, as well as implement school goals to create a comprehensive program for all students. Counselors are certified, experienced educators with a master's degree in school counseling. Their main goal is to find each student’s “why” and to propel them into a positive mindset and path to achieve that goal. 

During the pandemic, the role of school counselors has expanded to ensure students are maintaining a healthy mind. Their priority has shifted to keep students informed to ensure virtual learning does not widen the achievement gap. School counselors still provide students with the information and materials needed to prepare for college. Students are still participating in the Educational Career Action Plan for post-high school, virtual college tours, taking SAT/ ACT prep courses and exams, and applying for college.

In addition to assisting students with college and career goals, school counselors help students work through emotional, medical, and social issues, including panic attacks and high anxiety on a daily basis by using mindfulness tools. With the pandemic, school counselors are helping students cope with the death of a loved one. The counselors work with outside agencies and the homeless liaison to ensure students have resources and the tools they need during this difficult time. 

“We help students through crisis situations, academic downfalls, emotional turmoil, medical issues, behavioral struggles, and general adolescent behaviors to learn and grow through these experiences to earn that high school diploma while being a good human. We help each one of our 450 students in some way get through. The amount of help depends on what each student needs. There are countless success stories of students overcoming some type of turmoil to emerge on the other side, a better human,” added Harris. 

Middle and high school counselors are an integral part of each student’s academic team. Counselors work with administrators, teachers, and parents to develop a comfortable, healthy school environment. “We view the student as a whole child and provide the academic, social/emotional, and college and career support each student needs. We support them in times of crisis, as well as encourage a positive mindset to move them forward to being productive adults. We can offer them the support and encouragement that they may not feel they receive in other areas of their life,” said Koni Withers, a lead counselor. 

A Day In The Life of A School Counselor

While each day is different for middle and high school counselors, they typically start their day with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, a 504 meeting, or a parent meeting. During the school day, counselors are either in the classrooms providing Educational and Career Action Plan (ECAP) lessons or completing registration for the following school year. If they are not in the classrooms, the counselors are meeting with students on academic, social/emotional, or career goals. “We meet with students for goal setting, college advisement, transcript review, and schedule changes. We also spend time working on schedules, writing 504’s, crisis, participating in Student Teacher Assistance Team (STAT) meetings, college advisement, scholarship information, social/emotional support, and counseling. The goal of every school counselor is to spend as much of their day as possible, working directly with students,” added Withers.

Additionally, school counselors support students with registration, scheduling, dual enrollment options, peer tutoring, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), college visits, and college nights. They review ECAP requirements, which include career interest surveys, personality profiles, goal setting, and career and college research abilities. They make sure students are on track with graduation requirements, scholarship searches and information, provide social/emotional or crisis counseling, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) administration, standardized testing preparation and/or administration, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) recruitment, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) advisement for athletic scholars, PVOnline registration and progress monitoring, peer mediation, proctoring Advanced Placement tests, senior award planning and preparation, class placement modifications, grades, homework, summer school advisement, course catalog knowledge, and facilitate college or military recruiters.

The Ultimate Goal – Graduation

The role of a school counselor is to help and support students in learning and achievement. PVSchools provides counselors with Naviance Family Connection to help with the Arizona Educational and Career Action Plan responsibilities, but also provides students with access to scholarships – colleges and career, and personality assessments to determine the best careers for them. 

Harris explained, “We feel like we are a member of a team, as we alone, cannot help a student graduate. We need the help of our teachers, parents, the community, and students to assume ownership of the process of a quality education. We have many resources available to aid learning and achievement as we guide students on the correct academic path while encouraging self-evaluation and interests to drive their mindset and motivation. By seeing students as individuals, we feel that each one who earns their diploma has had the help of a team of people to achieve that goal, and we feel very proud of the many hours we have spent with each and every graduate.”

During National School Counselor Week, don’t forget to thank your teen’s school counselors for all they do on behalf of students.