Monday, June 29, 2015

Celebrate With Over 100 High School Counseling Websites!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Although I am not a newbie at technology, I still consider myself a novice. Over the last three years, I have learned a lot from Danielle Schultz, Erin Mason, Jeff Ream, Jeremy Goldman and Susan Spellman Cann about how to be more savvy at using different modes of technology as a school counselor. Now that I am feeling more comfortable with using different types of technology for my school counseling professional development, it is time to extend my "skills" to my students and parents by creating a educational and functional website.

Last year, Jeff Ream and Jeremy Goldman presented on branding your school counseling program.  What is branding?  According to Jeff and Jeremy, branding is the promise or big idea about your service.

How do you brand your school counseling program?  

1.  Create your school counseling message.

2.  Market your message to your audience.

3.  Gather your data.

One way to market your school counseling program is to create a school counseling website.  During ASCA13, Stephen Kennedy put together a presentation on how to develop a "great" school counseling website. 

Here is an outline of his suggestions for creating a great website:

Step 1:  Decide if you want to use your school's website or another outside template.  Some examples include:

Google sites
Wiki Spaces
Social media sites like Blogger or WordPress.  See Jeff Ream's post on Building a Better Blog for great tips!

Step 2: Pick a title

Remember ASCA encourages us to use the term school counselor; however, many counseling webpages use the term guidance counselor.

Step 3: Divide the website into categories

Categories can include:
  • Class pages
  • Career, personal/social, & academic resources
  • Parent page
  • Group counseling resources
  • Individual  counseling resources
  • Classroom Guidance
  • Financial Aid
  • Test Prep
  • Scholarships
  • Registration/Scheduling
  • Study tips
  • Transition
Step 4: Link to Outside Resources

1. Choose resources that parents and students ask about regularly. Some that my families ask about include:
2.  Consider creating and adding a live binder of all your websites for easy access.

Step 5: Define your role into ASCA mindsets.

Step 6: Consider diversity when putting together your website.  Include resources based on:
  • Gender
  • Culture
  • Orientation
  • Disabilities
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Language
Step 7: Formatting
  • Limit text to 1000 words.
  • Put important information in the center of the screen.
  • Limit scrolling.
  • Avoid using blinking, entirely capitalized, or scrolling words.
  • Colored or underlined text may be mistaken for hyperlinks.
Step 8: Add a calendar
  • Include:
  1. Classroom guidance sessions.
  2. Important meetings, tests, and conferences.
  3. Tutoring
  4. Deadlines for financial aid, scholarships, and applications.
  5. College tours
  6. Registration 
Step 9: Add a survey
Step 10: Add a newsletter.  A great newsletter to add to your site is High School Counselor Week.

Step 11:  Add your own app or other technology apps

Remind - Allows student and parents to sign up for text reminders.

School Counseling Website Development, Stephen Kennedy
ASCA, 2013 

In my obsession to create a better website for our school counseling department, I did an extensive high school counseling website search.  Using words like best, top, and excellent, I found an expansive list of high school websites.  These sites have expansive lists of resources, creative ways of reaching out to parents & students, important information, and much more.  Although, I could not include all the websites I found to be great, I thought these schools & districts followed the majority of Kennedy's recommendations.  

Please contact me if you want me to add any additional websites!!



Akins High School

Albany High School

American Fork High School

Analy High School

Apex High School Livebinder

Apex High School

Arizona School Counselors Livebinder


Baldwin High School

Bartlett Yancey High School

Burkburnett High School

Burlington High School


California High School 

Cambridge High School

Cary High School

Cedar Falls High School Livebinder

Central High School Counseling

Charlotte High School

Chief Leschi High School Livebinder

Cibola High School

Clarke County Schools Counseling Site

Cypress Ranch High School


Dexter High School


Edina High School

Edison High School 

Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Ephrata High School

Esperanza High School


Fairley High School

Fairview High School

Fordson High School

Fossil Ridge High School

Fontainebleau High School 

Francis Howell High School

Frank Dobie High School

Fremont High School

Friendswood High School

Frisco Independent School District


George Washington High School

Glencoe High School

Granite School District 

Great Oak High School


Hanover Horton School Counseling

Harlandale High School

Harold L Richards High School

Hastings High School

Hebron High School

Henry M. Gunn High School

Highland High School

Hillsboro High School

Hillside High School


Iowa Department of Education School Counseling Site

Issaquah High School

Jackson County High School

Jefferson County High School

Jefferson County Schools

John Stark Regional High School


La Costa Canyon High School

Lakeshore High School

Lake Travis High School

Lanier High School

Lassiter High School

Lebanon School District

Lehman High School

Linn Mar High School

Louis Dieruff High School

Lynn English High School 


Marshall High School

Mckinney-North High School

Milton High School

Missouri Career Education

Montgomery Public Schools Counselors

Mount Shasta High School

Murrieta Valley School District


Naperville High School

Nimitz High School

North Oconee High School

North Tahoe High School

Northwest Independent School District


Oak Park High School

Oklahoma School Counselors 

Olympus High School

Oneonta High School

Osbourne Park High School


Pahrump Valley High School

Palos Verdes High School

Paris High School Counseling Livebinder

Parkdale High School 

Paso Robles High School

Pennsbury School District

Pickerington High School

Pikesville High School Counseling 

Pittsford Stattford High School 

P K Yonge Developmental Research High School

Princeton City Schools

Rancho Mirage High School

Redmond High School

Robert Vela High School 

Rochester High School

Roswell High School Student Services


Salmon High School

Saucon Valley High School

Sheboygan High School

Sparta High School

Staley High School

Sunset High School

Sweetwater High School


Tacoma School Counselors Livebinder

Tenafly High School

Texas School Counselor Website


Valdosta High School

Valencia High School

Vanden High School

Vermilion Parish Schools

Virginia Alliance for School Counseling


Walton High School

Washington State Counseling Site

Wayzata High School

West Virginia School Counseling Website

Westwood High School

Wilson High School

Winnetonka High School

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Can't Go To ASCA15? Attend #Notatasca!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Want to participate in the ASCA Conference, but can't travel to Phoenix?  Boy, do I have an answer for you!!  Join Erin Mason, Danielle Schultz, Chris Belser, Wendy Rock,  myself, and other school counselors for the 2nd Annual #NotatASCA15 Twitter Chat and/or sign up for the ASCA Virtual Conference.  

 If you are considering following the chat, here are some tips:

  • Set up your Twitter Feed for #ASCA15 and #NotatASCA15 on Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.  Here is Danielle Schultz's feed from Tweetdeck that she has featured for newbies.  Check out her very informative blog on participating in #NotatASCA15.

  • Pick the time slots in which you want to participate or even consider hosting an hour long chat.  Erin Mason has provided a Google Doc for those who wish to sign up and host! Think about stepping out! 
June 29th 9 am -5 pm 

June 30th 9am -5 pm

July 1st 9 am -12 pm

  • Join the chat on June 29th @ 8:00 PM EST hosted by Danielle Schultz and Erin Mason!
  • Can't make it during those times, not a problem!  A transcript will be available on Storify for you to view.  Also, highlights will be available on my blog!
Want a preview of the chat?  Check out last year's Twitter Chat from #NotASCA14?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Superstar Counselors to Stalk!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Okay, I admit it! I am a child of the 80s. As I am sitting here watching a marathon of Behind the Music, I am transported back to the days of Aqua Net, spandex, and my musical idols.  If you lived during this era, you may remember the larger than life artists and bands who ruled the airwaves at the time like Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Motley Crue, Journey, and list goes on and on.  While watching the series today, I noticed an interesting feature. On some of the shows, the producers interviewed current artists who discussed how their music was influenced by these superstars.  Therefore, these artists took their heroes'  influences and perfected their own craft.

Musical Influences of Contemporary Artists

You may be asking what does this have to do with school counselors?  Since my mind works in some unusual ways, I will put it together for you.  Over the years, there has been a lot of backbreaking groundwork and publicity to enhance the status of school counselors.  This work has been accomplished by  dedicated members of our national organization, the American School Counseling Association, the leadership of many state organizations (Go Georgia!),  former and present school counselors, and counselor educators (see the Timeline: History-of-Counseling by Daclan Habeck). Since becoming involved in #SCCROWD, #SCCHAT, & #HSCCHAT, I have found a lot of knowledgeable and influential school counselors and counselor educators that I stalk regularly.  In my opinion, these educators are my counseling idols and deserve public recognition for their work and contributions in the field of school counseling!!  So, if you want to expand your counseling skills, check out my counseling rock stars!!

My Counseling Rock Stars for High School Counselors                                 

Blogging Stars                                                  
Danielle Schultz
Tracy Jackson
Elizabeth Cranford

Creativity Stars

Carol Miller
Traci Brown

Technology Stars

Erin Mason 
Jeff Ream

Leadership Stars

Tim Conway
Jeremy Goldman

Education Stars

Raychelle Lohmann 
Julia Taylor 
Patrick O'Connor 

Data Stars

Trish Hatch
Franciene Sabens
Russ Sabella

Professional Development Stars

Susan Spellman Cann
Ross Wolfson
Amber Shepherd-Thompson

Top Blogs

Need Professional Development: Check out these School Counselor Professional Development for High School Counselors

School Counselor Crowd

High School Counselor Chat
School Counselor Chat

Do you have a fav counselor that you follow?  Post your counselor crush so I to add him or her to our list!!  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Timeline: History of Counseling

Sunday, June 21, 2015

This is my first official guest post!! I was super excited when Declan Habeck from Northwestern University reached out to me and asked if I would feature the history of counseling on my blog.  Since I have an undergraduate degree in history, I felt it was incredibly important that we understand how our profession emerged over the last four centuries.  Why understand about our professional past?  I think the answer can be best summed up in this quote...

Timeline: A History of Counseling
By: Declan Habeck

Counseling has been around in various forms for centuries. In the 1700s, it was primarily teachers and social advocates offering conversation-based therapy on topics like child welfare and education. In recent years, however, counseling has become a popular mental health profession among those who have an interest in preventing and treating different mental, emotional, and behavioral issues.

The following interactive timeline from Counseling@Northwestern explores the history of counseling and how the profession evolved into a respectable and well-established area of expertise. The slideshow features information about pioneers in the industry like Sigmund Freud, who developed the first psychoanalysis field, the three major pioneers of counseling in the 1900s and the role they played in the early stages of institutional and school guidance, and how government involvement through legislation, particularly in dealing with thousands of returning WWII soldiers, affected the way in which the counseling profession evolved.

Timeline: The History of Counseling also illustrates how more modern laws like Title IX turned our attention to the needs of diverse populations. The interactive slides also showcase the impact of categorizing counselors as primary mental health professionals, as a way to legitimize the profession and differentiate those who are certified counselors. The History of Counseling examines how counseling techniques and the overall profession have evolved throughout the last few centuries, leading us to the counseling practices and techniques we know and use today. 

Check it out here!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Purple Drank: A Guide for School Counselors

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My lungs are working overtime!
Have you ever had a bad cough?  I mean a cough so evil that you can't sleep, it annoys every member of your family, and it is so loud that people give you dirty looks at the pharmacy.  That is my current state as I am writing this blog post.  In fact, I write a little, cough a lot, get a sip  of water, and go back to writing.  IT STINKS!!  However, I don't have to suffer as much since I got some awesome cough syrup from the physician.  Okay, I can't pronounce its name, but I don't care!  It puts me into a relaxed state so that I can get at least four hours of sleep without hacking my brains out.  Believe me, when this woman doesn't sleep, it is not a good day in the Morton household!

One thing about many of the strong cough medicines is that they taste yucky.  My current syrup does not disappoint and tastes horrid.  After taking my last dose, a thought popped in my can teenagers drink substantial amounts of this stuffOh, that's right they combine it with soda or candy...what is it called?  Oh, purple drink, no purple drank!  After taking my medicine, I came into the living room and started researching the purple drank.  What are its origins?  What is its appeal to teens?  What does it do the body?  What I found made me decide to write this post for my fellow school counselors.  I hope this information may be helpful to you when you return to your school.

Purple Drank

 If you truly want to think like your students, visit the Urban Dictionary.  One contributor described the purple drank as "codeine/promethazine cough syrup mixed in with some sprite. serve it up in a white styrafoam (sic) cup with some ice and your good to go. you can mix it up with all kinds of sodas or just sip the ish. there is NO alcohol in it and its NOT robitussin. It's thick and purple and comes only by prescription or by your local weedman. not to be sipped by suckas!!!!!"  Okay, for you and me that means the drink contains a codeine and antihistamine cough syrup mixed with sprite and candies like jolly ranchers or skittles.  Texas Monthly Magazine found that the origins of the drink began in Houston when hip hop producer DJ Screw popularized the drink in the 90s.  Screws and his music became so synonymous with the drink that Houston was publicized as the "City of Syrup." Following the death of Screws (he died from a codeine overdose...imagine that), the drink was popularized by rappers from the South like Lil Wayne and Ludacris.

Lil Wayne promotes Sizzurp in his songs
Effects of the Purple Drank on Teens

The Purple drank (aka Sizzurp, Texas Tea, Lean or Purple Jelly) can have severe negative effects on a teen when taken recreational.  These symptoms include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and confusion. When mixed with other substances,  like weed, alcohol, or Ecstasy, it can create a zombie like state. Long term use of syrup can have other serious side effects like weight gain, tooth decay, anxiety, tremors from withdrawal, and even death. The first time I experienced someone who was abusing syrup was when one of our honor students came in my office sweating profusely and in a state of utter confusion.  At first, I was unsure why the student was acting so out of character, but later I found out that s/he had been abusing syrup severely for over a year.  The impact of syrup addiction had a negative impact on this promising student as s/he was arrested for stealing syrup and failed to graduate on time. 

Video: What is Sizzurp?

How the Purple Drank Became Part of Pop Culture (CNN)

Effects of the Sizzurp

Although it is medically proven that taking cough syrup recreationally is harmful and has attributed to the deaths of many teens and adults, there are some comments after the last video that I wanted to include.  These comments really put into perspective how many teens and young adults rationalize their syrup use.

Quotes from Cough Syrup Users:

" I've done DXM hundreds of times, often for several days straight, and I'm reasonably convinced that it's had no negative effects on my mind: I recently completed my PhD in math; I can speak, read, and write French and Mandarin Chinese; and I have an awesome paying international job that I'm pretty good at. The only detriment is elevated blood pressure and difficulty sleeping the night after dexing because of its NSSRI effects."

" I tried that combo for the first time a few weeks ago, and man, was it crazy - wonky fun! As THC stimulates the imagination and DXM stimulates the analytical part of the brain, it was like the THC was making my imagination go nuts and produce all kinds of crazy stuff, and the DXM would then make my brain devour that stuff and process it. It felt like my whole head was doing some crazy dance: I don't know how else to describe it. Really cool experience!"

Source: You Tube

Even popular actors are applauding syrup use on social media.  See the comment from Bill Murray (Ghost buster fame).

A. R. Shaw in his article, 10 Things Hip-Hop Stars Won't Tell You About Using Purple Drank, gave some great examples of information that teens and young people need to know about syrup. I decided to take this information and put it on a poster to hang up during Red Ribbon Week. Here is my first attempt at creating a poster...

Demographics of Youth Who Abuse Cough Syrup

In a study conducted among college students in the southeastern U.S., researchers identified several groups who abuse syrup.  These groups include males, members of the LGBTQ community, and students from suburban and urban areas.  In their study, the researchers found there was a strong correlation between the abuse of cough syrup and the music preference (i.e. rap) of the students.  In a study on the impact of musical preference and drug use, Stogner found several theoretical explanations for a particular substance choice by each subculture.
  • Music is a way to bring people together and they often model behaviors from the lyrics of the artists.
  • Those who listen to certain types of music are sensation seekers and use substances to increase those feelings.
  • Youth often choose peer groups who reinforce their substance abuse and this can be accomplished by listening to certain genres of music.
In the future, researchers believe there may be a shift in youth who abuse syrup as other genres of music, like country, begin to promote its use.
Source: Purple Drank Research

                Prevalence of Syrup Use Among High School Seniors
Cough medicine is the fourth leading abused drug

Purple Drank Prevention and Intervention

Of course, the best way to deal with syrup abuse is to prevent it before it begins. 

1. A great way to do this is in drug awareness campaigns during the year like Red Ribbon Week or Drug Fact Awareness Week. The purpose of these national events is to educate students about the dangers of drug abuse and expose myths perpetuated by the media. 
2. Another prevention activity is to host a parent education night either in person or online.  This is an excellent opportunity to include community members in your school like the medical community, law enforcement, health department, therapists, and even people who have overcome addiction.  Check out this impressive parent presentation by Frederick County, Maryland
3. In addition, providing protective factors like good communication, positive school activities, access to peer helpers, and encouraging positive student-adult interaction are effective ways to prevent drug use among teens.
4. Also, think about applying your skills in cognitive-behavioral approaches as an effective prevention method with students who are at risk for addition.
5. Another strategy is to set up a student led organization to educate students against the dangers of drug use.  One great organization is Students Against Destructive Decisions or SADD.  
6. Think about using prevention curricula in your classroom guidance activities. Below, I have provided some information on a prevention program called Home 2 Homeroom and Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse lesson plans that may be useful to schools.

Resources for Counselors
9-12 Lesson Plan on Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse
Home 2 Homeroom
Educational Poster

Red Ribbon Resources
Download Red Ribbon Resources  

Resources for Parents
The Medicine Abuse Project

Next, we always want to address students who are abusing substances and assist their families in getting the help they need.  First, you must be aware of signs and symptoms in order to help identify possible drug abuse in your students.  Next, school counselors can serve as the liaison between families and therapeutic facilities. Another strategy is to connect families to community supports as students are in recovery.  Check out these strategies from Natoya Haskins' article The School Counselor's Role With Students At-Risk for Substance Abuse.

With its ease of access, cough syrup addiction is becoming more prevalent among students, particularly in the rap culture.  School counselors can make a difference by educating students and parents about its dangers, providing protective factors for students in the school environment, and serving as a liaison between community resources and families who are struggling with an addicted student. Since codeine addiction is not easy to
overcome,  the student may develop a negative or even violent reaction to our meddling in their affairs. Watching a student transform from a promising future into self destruction patterns is not easy. Although this may not be a popular topic in our schools, as school counselors we are not in the business of comfort.  Our focus should be to continue to provide supports for high school students and their families so that they can graduate and become productive, self sustaining citizens.

Check out these additional articles and resources:
How Teens Smuggle Booze Under Your Nose
Skittles Not Just a Candy
Why Sizzurp is Unsafe to Slurp
 Drug Free World
Life Skills Drug Use Prevention Curriculum