I just got home from the Georgia School Counseling Conference in Augusta and I feel renewed and energized! The conference was three days and featured numerous topics from some of Georgia's best school counselors and leaders! I have a suggestion for you...if you feel defeated, unappreciated, or undervalued, I encourage you to attend your state conference and consider becoming a member! If you are a member and have benefitted from staff development, networking, and resources, please join the Tell One Campaign started by Jeff Ream. Tell One asks us to tweet or face book our pledge to tell one counselor about the benefits of our state organizations.
|Campaign by the Counseling Geek, Jeff Ream|
What invigorated me most at the conference was the opening session and the inspiring speech given by counseling and data guru, Trish Hatch. Dr. Hatch asked Georgia School Counselors the miracle question, "What if you woke up and everything you wanted as a school counselor professional had actually happened? How would schools be different?" In my head, I had all kinds of images of programs, groups, classroom meetings, and the list went on and on. Then she said something that surprised many...the miracle for school counselors is happening right now!
At this point, I am not really convinced that something amazing has happened in our profession, but Dr. Hatch took us through a journey describing the school counselor miracle.
This miracle started on Nov. 14, 2011 when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made the statement that school counselors should be in leadership positions in their schools and districts! Unfortunately, the problem is that many school counselors or leaders were really aware of this statement...tear!
Then in December, 2012, another extraordinary event occurred! The Common Core Standards outlined the role of the school counselor in college and career readiness. Again, school counselors were mentioned in the educational literature...a major step!!
Implementing the Common Core: The Role of the School Counselor
School Counselor and Common Core
Next, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, expressed that school counselors and social workers should be in every school (December 16, 2012). Whoa!!
"We can actually do things in schools. We can have more guidance counselors, we can have more social workers, psychologists all of whom have been cut...because of the cuts...we can do wrap around services...more of these things to de-stigmatize mental illness and have more access... "
In 2013, another miracle occurred! The White House issued a document called Now Is the Time. This document announced that 1,000 school resource officers and mental health counselors should be placed in schools to prevent crime and student violence.
The next year, several wonderful events occurred according to Dr. Hatch!
January - President Obama sponsored a summit which he called for an ambitious plan to remove college barriers. Following the summit, the First Lady continued the call to action by implementing the Reach Higher Initiative where students are asked to continue their education beyond high school.
April - The report, Building a Grad Nation was revised to include school counselors. In fact, school counselors are mentioned 33 times in this document!
May - The First Lady asked for a Listening and Learning Session on School Counseling. Dr. Hatch provided her concerns and recommendations to the White House.
June - Then at the most magical place in the world (Disney World), a true miracle occurred! The First Lady of the United States of America spoke to over 2,000 counselors about the importance of their position in schools.
“School counseling should not be an extra or a luxury just for school systems that can afford it. School counseling is a necessity to ensure that all our young people get the education they need to succeed in today’s economy”. --First Lady Michelle Obama
Dr. Hatch said the miracle is not over! Next week, a special team of professionals will convene at San Diego State University to discuss how they can improve school counseling preparation programs. See more about this meeting in a news interview with Dr. Hatch!
Oh, by the way, this event will be live streamed for public viewing.
Also, there are several documents you can view to learn more about the purpose of the San Diego Conference:
1. Dr. Hatch's timeline of the White House's plan to Strengthen the School Counselor Profession: Strengthening the School Counselor Profession Through First Lady's Reach Higher Initiative
2. Working Plans for the San Diego Conference:
Georgia Working Plan
Florida Working Plan
California Working Plan
At the end of her speech, Dr. Hatch said that school counselors are finally at the BIG TABLE because we are the voice of students. My final words in this blog post is that miracles are happening for us and now is the time to make our presence known.
Be the mosquito! A small force makes a big difference!!