Sunday, May 25, 2014

The 35 Most Interesting High School Counselor Twitter Pages in the World!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

After reading Suzanne Shaffer's blog on the top 25 counselors for parents to follow, I was inspired to create my own top high school counselor twitter list.  In my opinion, my list consists the 35 most active high school counselors and counselor educators on twitter.  In fact, most of these pages have 1,000 or more tweets available for you to find resources and information.  I hope you will find their twitter pages as interesting as I do!!


Amber Shepherd

Berea MidPark High School

Bridget Helms

Charity Dodd

Chris Wood

Darrell Sampson

Donna Holley

Erin Mason

Franciene Sabens

Katrina Eisfeldt

Jeff Ream (The Counseling Geek)

Jen Grossman

Jerry Blumengarten

Julia Taylor

LSHS Counselors

Marci Newman

Mrs. Murphy

NSHS Guidance

North Carolina Counselors

North Tahoe High School Counseling

Pikesville High School

Randi Rosenberg

Raychelle Lohmann

Rebecca Cambridge

Rebecca Strubbe

Mrs. Rose

Ross Wolfson

School Counselor Crowdsourcing

Susan Langan

Susan Spellman Cann

Tamica Collard

Tanqe Verde High School

Tim Conway

Valley Vista High School

Washington Township High School

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Smile is the Same, but the Face is Different...Working With Transgender Students

Monday, May 19, 2014

It is the end of the day and I am working on sorting diplomas for graduation when a staff member tells me there is a student in the hallway to see me.  As I arrive in the hall, I almost did not recognize my former student.  The eyes and the smile were familiar, but the face and body had changed.  As I approach the student,  I instantly remember who this person is smiling at me.  As we chat, many staff members walk by us without acknowledging the student. At that point, I am waiting for someone to say something to the student because this person was a tremendous leader in our school. Well, no one ever said a word which made us both a little uncomfortable.  Finally, the two of us look at each other and start laughing hysterically (which broke the tension).  "No one ever recognizes me any more at this school", said the student. "Well, you do look a lot different from when you were here as a student." The student asked, "Since I look so different, how did you know it was me?"  I looked at the student and said, "You can never change your eyes and that great smile."

This was the first time I had seen this student in several years so I had no idea about the gender transition. In high school, the student was openly gay, but decided to have reassignment surgery after going to college.  Truthfully, it was difficult for me not think of this student as the person who was in my peer helper program, but I knew it was important to acknowledge the new identity.  Having seen my student made me realize that many school counselors and staff do not have the appropriate knowledge of how to work with transgender students in the high school setting.  Whether we agree or disagree with transgender identity, it is important that we, as professional school counselors,  provide the needed advocacy and support for all students.

Below is a list of important information for working with transgender youth as a school counselor.  In addition, I have provided some resources from GLSEN, Safe School Coalition, SAMSHA, Lambda Legal, the Trevor Project, and the National Youth Advocacy Coalition.

Important Information for School Counselors When Working With Trans Students

ASCA Position Statement
Be familiar with the ASCA position statement on working with the LGBTQ youth.  
Be familiar with the transgender terminology. Lambda Legal provides appropriate definitions for school professionals.
          Transgender-umbrella term used to describe people whose              gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth.
          Gender-nonconforming-people whose gender expression,
          outward appearance or behavior, differs from the     
          expectations expected with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Mental Health
Be aware that students who experience incongruity between their internal sense of self and their outward identity may experience depression and severe emotional distress.

Stereotypes and Assumptions
Avoid assumptions about transgender youths' sexual orientation.  According to Lambda Legal, sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender students may identify as gay, lesbian, heterosexual, bisexual, or something else.

 Assist students in finding mentors and healthy role models.


Be aware of suicide rates among transgender youth and how to take action to reduce those rates among youth in school.
                                 LGBTQ Suicide Webinar
    Trevor Project: Trevor Care 

Safe School Zones

Create a safe zone for transgender students where they can go during the day.
GLSEN Safe Space Kit
Put this label on your door indicating a safe space for LGBTQ students


Transition After High School 

Aid students in finding resources about their rights as they transition to college and the world of work. 

Laws Protecting Trans Youth
Know the laws pertaining to transgender students' privacy and rights:
        * All students have the right to discuss their sexuality and gender identity with anyone.
         *Although districts must maintain a mandatory student record with the student's legal name and gender,
         they are not legally required to use a students' legal name and gender on other school documents.
        Students may use their preferred name and gender on these documents.
       * Before identifying a student as transgender to the family, school counselors or staff members must
          work closely with the student and consider the health, well-being, and safety of the student.

Additional Resources

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

National Prevention Week-Resources for School Counselors

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
National Prevention Week is held each year before summer events like graduation parties, proms, weddings, sporting events, and outdoor activities. Since National Prevention Week is in the middle of May, it allows schools to take part in a prevention-themed event before the summer break. From May to July, there is an increase in the percentages of youth who use marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol.

Daily Themes & Resources for School Counselors:

May 18th-Tobacco Use Prevention
Rethink Tobacco Toolkit  - 150 page manual from South Dakota with great ideas, activities, and resources for grades K-12.
Age me-Students can put in their photo and can see the effects of age, obesity, smoking, and sun exposure.
Chemistry Kills Poster- Show students all the ingredients in cigarette.
Rot Away- Help students see the deadly effects of smoking on their internal organs.

May 19th-Prevention of Underage Drinking

Liability Laws Make Parents Responsible for Underage Drinking In Their Home
MADD Social Hosting Educational Initiative-educate your parents about hosting parties with drinking.

May 20th-Prevention of Prescription Drug and Marijuana Use

Prescription Drug Abuse Facts

Peer Education Guide on Prescription Drug Abuse
The Neurology of Addiction Presentation for Students
Marijuana Use Facts
Marijuana Quiz-quiz for students to test their knowledge about cannabis.

May 22nd-Prevention of Suicide

Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Centre for Suicide Prevention
Question, Persuade, and Respond-training for school counselors and school staff.
Great Resource to Give Students

May 23rd-Promotion of Mental Health

Poster to Display

Sample Resource

I hope you can sponsor some events next week.  Since our graduation is Saturday, I cannot participate this year.  Oh well, maybe next year!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Just Graduated! Protecting Students From Impaired Driving During Graduation Season

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

During the month of May, many of our high school students celebrate two great life milestones: prom and graduation. Although these events are happy times for both students and parents, there are times when tragedy strikes a school community. One such tragedy occurred the morning after our high school graduation when a group of our football players were involved in a car accident. 
The morning after our high school graduation, our school was celebrating the upcoming summer break with a breakfast. During our faculty breakfast, the high school football coach announced that there had been an early morning accident and one of our students had been killed coming home from a graduation party.  The room grew eerily quiet as we all waited to hear who had been killed that beautiful sunny day.  "Folks, I just got word that a group of our senior athletes were in an accident and one of them was killed immediately." As he spoke, tears begin to flow as he announced the name of one of the football players killed that morning.  Apparently, there had been a graduation party and his death was a result of activities from that party.  I was silent the rest of the morning thinking about that family and how a life had been cut short by someone's reckless behavior.  

Unfortunately, this would not be the last time in my career as a teacher or school counselor, I would hear this sad news.  Fast forward another four years and one of my students, shortly before graduation, was killed in an automobile accident involving drugs and driving.  In another six years, three young men, months from graduation, would die from distracted driving.

As a result of teen deaths from drinking and driving, I became involved in Students Against Destructive Decisions. One of the main purposes of SADD is to bring awareness about impaired teen driving.  The students at our school were very passionate about educating students regarding the risks of impaired driving. One student, in particular, took our chapter to a whole new level.  Before prom and graduation, she orchestrated the largest mock car wreck in the history of our county.  We had police officers, paramedic involvement, administrative support, and I even acted as a distraught parent. I was really proud of our SADD chapter and we were even featured in the newspaper for our work.

 If you are interested in staging your own mock car wreck, here are resources from SADD and the Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety.

SADD-How to Organize a Mock Car Crash
SADD: Beyond the Mock Crash
Step by Step Guide to Organize a Mock Car Crash by the Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety

Video of a SADD Mock Car Crash
 Becker High School

Why Educate Students About Impaired Driving Around Graduation?

Statistics show that prom and graduation season can be deadly for students who choose to drink and drive.  The graph below shows high school events with the highest teen fatalities.

Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions reported that there are 13 million teen drivers in the United States.  Out of those 13 million drivers, 3 million teens will drive impaired over prom, graduation, and summer vacation. In addition, they surveyed teens regarding their perceptions of driving ability and drinking.  Out of those surveyed, 62% of teens thought that drinking impaired their driving, 19% felt it had no impact, and 19% felt it made them better drivers (scary!).

Since May is Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, NOYS has created a toolkit to use with your students to educate them about impaired driving. Before we can educate students, it is important that we educate ourselves, our staff, and parents about why students drive is all about the brain!

Alcohol and Teen Brain Development (Source: Teen's in the Driver's Seat)

During childhood and adolescence, the brain develops in stages, starting from the back to the front, and does not fully develop until age 25 (the magic year car insurance premium decreases!). During the adolescent years, the emotional part of the brain and the center for learning/memory undergo a major expansion. During this time of growth and development, the use of substances (drugs and alcohol) can severely disrupt this development and impede vital warning systems the brain gives us when in danger.  For instance, when a teen drinks too much, they lack the ability to tell if they are intoxicated or unable to perform a certain act (i.e. driving). Another danger is the threat of blacking out or worse, passing out. Blacking out is when a teen cannot remember what occurred during the time of intoxication while passing out can cause the teen's brain to stop functioning causing death.  If a teen says that he or she passed out and slept off a night of drinking, he or she was really in serious danger of not waking up! Another fact about brain development is that the brain of a teen who gets drunk on a regular basis is different than a teen who does not use alcohol.  The area of memory and learning is 10% smaller and they may develop trouble learning and remembering new skills and information.

Teen's in the Driver's Seat-This is Your Brain on Alcohol
PBS-Inside the Teen Brain
Why Do Teens Act This Way?
Effects of Drugs on the Teen Brain

Teen Driving Impairment and Its Effects

The CDC found that young drivers under the age of 21 are five times more likely to get into a car accident. This percentage increases to 20% when teens are drinking!

State percentages of fatalities

When teens are drinking and driving, the effects can be dangerous for the driver, the passengers and other motorists. Here are some of the effects of impaired driving...

It is estimated that after high school graduation, accidents related to alcohol increase by 70%!

What can we do to help students stay safe during high risk times for teen fatalities?  One answer is to provide safe events for students during events like homecoming, prom, and graduation.

What is Project Graduation and Safe and Sober Graduation?
The concept of safe after graduation parties was established to keep teens safe while allowing them to have that one last night of fun with their classmates.  The idea for Project Graduation began in the early 1980s as a prevention strategy to help protect the lives of high school seniors on graduation night. Since its inception, the project has received attention from Good Housekeeping Magazine and has been replicated in all 50 states and Canada. In addition to Project Graduation, the Safe and Sober Graduation Program was established by the California Highway Patrol in 1985 to raise awareness of drinking and driving by teens. This program has been recognized internationally as an effective anti-DUI awareness program targeting seniors.

Interested in having a safe graduation event?  Here are resources you can use to create your own safe and sober graduation.

Graduation Program Ideas
Project Graduation How To Manual

Global Youth Traffic Safety Month  and Teens In the Drivers Seat

Not ready for a safe graduation event? Each May, the National Organizations for Youth Safety or NOYS  asks youth groups in local communities and schools to engage in youth traffic safety projects. NOYS offers a tool kit of project ideas and resources to help youth groups establish impaired driving events in their schools and communities. In addition, Teens In the Driver's Seat, supports schools who would like to start a chapter in their school.  If you live in the following states, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Nebraska, or Texas, you can get free resources for your school.  

 Need resources for GYTS Month?  Here are resources that you can use in your school.


TDS Poster

I Know Everything Video