Counselor Education Fall 2014 News

SUNY Oneonta

ASCA National Standards Under Revision

The ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success: K-12 College and Career Readiness for Every Student is a revision of the 2004 ASCA Student Standards. The draft includes mindsets and grade-level competencies. Please familiarize yourself with the draft document and watch for it to be finalized in the very near future.

Writing College Letters of Recommendation

Preparing letters of recommendation for students is an important aspect of the high school counselor's role. A school district may even have you write a sample letter as part of the interview process, to assess your abilities in this area. Karen Gilbertson (M.S. Ed. '12), Admissions Counselor at SUNY Oneonta since 2006, has provided her insights and tips on this topic in a short guest article:

What are College Admissions Officers Really Looking For in Letters of Recommendation? By Karen Gilbertson

Writing letters of recommendation (LOR) for high school seniors who are applying to colleges to continue on their educational journey is part of the job responsibilities of a school counselor. So what should you include in a LOR and what are colleges looking for? Well, I have the inside scoop for you. First, we are always looking for those “teachable moments” right? I have never declined a request from a student to write a LOR, however I have required that students provide me with certain information about themselves (GPA, involvements, activities, interests, strengths, weaknesses, etc.) so that I can include this unique information in their LOR. You can create a simple form they can fill out, but this is helping them identify their own strengths and abilities and help link their successes to their future. This can be linked to the ASCA National Standards, and you could create a curriculum lesson on this topic.

As college admissions professionals we read thousands and thousands of LOR and we can quickly identify the letters where the counselors just changed the student’s name, a few pronouns, and submitted the same letter for ten different students. Students only need to submit one or two LOR’s per college (unless otherwise requested); one LOR from the counselor who can write to the students academics and achievements, and another LOR from a teacher who can write to the students character, their intellectual drive, engagement in learning, etc. Admissions professionals are reviewing transcripts and test scores to determine academic suitability for admission. What the letter of recommendation is revealing to the admissions professional is what grades and test scores can’t! The LOR provides personal opinions about a student’s character, insight into the student’s individuality, obstacles a student has overcome, and what this particular student could bring to our campus. A powerful and persuasive LOR could potentially influence an admissions committee to reconsider a borderline applicant. Your LOR can make a difference!


  • Encourage your students to ONLY submit 2 or 3 LOR.
  • LOR’s at small private colleges hold much greater weight in the admissions decision process so spend greater time and include more detailed information in these letters.
  • Keep them to one page!
  • Be sure to include the student’s legal name (no nicknames), and if they have a common name a date of birth is very helpful to include in the LOR.
  • Make each LOR personal; if you don’t know the student you shouldn’t write a LOR.
  • It’s okay to highlight weaknesses of a student if you illustrate in the LOR what the student did to overcome those weaknesses. This illustrates growth and personal development to the admissions review committee.

College Advising: Professional Development Resources

College advising is an important responsibility for high school counselors. It is important to engage in ongoing professional development in this area, to stay abreast of current trends. There are several professional developmental opportunities you may wish to explore:

  • OpInform Workshops: SUNY offers workshops around NYS. These workshops are designed to provide school counselors with up to date information on admissions and other higher education topics. Visit the website to view upcoming events for counselors. You can also view Power Points from previous presentations.

  • CollegeBoard: You will find a variety of resources on this website to help you advise students on college selection, the application process, and financial aid information. CollegeBoard also offers a variety of professional development opportunities, including free workshops held around the state, as well as online workshops. You can learn more by visiting the professional development page.

Building a Professional Learning Community Online

It can be challenging for school counselors to form a professional support system. Professional development opportunities in your district may be geared more toward teachers, and you may be the only counselor in your building. Once you leave the classroom, you may be searching for a way to connect with others in your profession. If you are not yet employed in a school district, you may be searching for ways to stay current and learn about changes. There are many online resources to help you build a professional network to meet your needs.

  • Facebook Groups: There are several closed discussion groups for counselors on Facebook, Consider joining any of these groups that fit your interests and career goals: Elementary School Counselor Exchange; Caught in the Middle School Counselors; High School Counselors' Network; Counselor Book Club. Also, make sure to "Like" the pages for ASCA and NYSSCA for the latest news.
  • Twitter: You can follow organizations or people in the counseling community to stay abreast of current issues. You can also participate in Twitter Chats. Here' s a great short video clip (under 1 minute!) that highlights the use of Twitter by educators:
  • LinkedIn: This site offers opportunities to connect with other professionals, join groups based on special interests, and search job postings.
  • Blogs: Professional blogs can provide a wealth of information and ideas. A few to watch: written by Carol Miller, a Middle School Counselor; and Rebecca Lallier's blog, a wonderful resource for elementary school counselors
  • Pinterest: You can find ideas for lessons, bulletin boards, program themes... the possibilities are endless.

SUNY Oneonta DASA Training 2014-2015

September 25 & 26, 2014 8:30 am – 12:00 pm (Must attend both days)

Trainer: Ying Tang Contact:

Registration Deadline: Thursday, 9/18

November 13 & 14, 2014 8:30 am-12:00 pm (Must attend both days)

Trainer: Ying Tang Contact:

Registration Deadline: Thursday, 11/6

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 8:30 am- 4:00 pm

Trainer: Maizy Jaklitsch Contact:

Registration Deadline: Monday, 1/12

Saturday, March 21, 2015 8:30 am- 4:00 pm

Trainer: Maizy Jaklitsch Contact:

Registration Deadline: Monday, 3/16

Saturday, April 18, 2015 8:30 am- 4:00 pm

Trainer: Maizy Jaklitsch Contact:

Registration Deadline: Monday, 4/10

These workshops are for current undergraduate and graduate students in education, special education and counseling. Priority will be given to students in their last semester of coursework prior to student teaching, or graduate students in their final semester of coursework prior to degree completion.

Students must contact the Trainer by email to register for a workshop. The student is not registered until s/he receives email confirmation from the trainer. Training will be offered on a first come, first-served basis. Students should register early to reserve a spot in your preferred session.

Faculty Professional Development

Dr. Ron LaFrance recently attended a workshop on "Trauma in Everyday Life" with Robert Thurman, Ph D. and Mark Epstein, MD, held at the Menla Mountain Retreat Center in Phoenicia, NY. The workshop. sponsored by Tibet House in New York City, integrated Buddhist wisdom with the practice of Psychotherapy, with a focus on understanding the struggle to work effectively with everyday difficulties that get in our way.

NYSSCA Conference

The NYSSCA Annual Conference 2014 will be held in Albany, NY on Friday October 31st and Saturday November 1st. There is an early bird rate for registrations postmarked by October 3rd. Visit NYSSCA's website for more information.

Dr. Ying Tang and Dr. Alyse Anekstein will presenting a workshop entitled "Back to Basics: Creative Counseling Techniques" at the conference.

School Counselor Advocacy

There have been many exciting examples of advocacy at the state and national level in recent months. In June 2014, a team presented a series of recommendations related to school counseling in New York to the Board of Regents. At the national level, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke about the importance of school counselors at the ASCA Conference in July. Also, Arne Duncan sent a memo to state education leaders supporting the roles of school counselors. I have provided links to additional information about these advocacy efforts below.

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Spotlight on Program Graduates

Please join me in extending congratulations to our program graduates who have recently secured school counseling positions:

  • Maureen (O'Reilly) Burton, M.S. Ed. '14, Roxbury Central School, K-12 School Counselor
  • Maureen Casey-Bryant, M.S. Ed. '10, Sullivan West Secondary School, 7-12 School Counselor
  • Alicia Love, CAS Student, Lisbon Central School, K-6 School Counselor (hired following long term substitute assignment)
  • Nicole Ruddy, M.S. Ed. '12, Frankfort-Schuyler Central School, 6-12 School Counselor (hired following long term substitute assignment)
  • Jessica Spicer, M.S. Ed. '09, CAS '14, Montgomery Village Middle School (Maryland), Grade 6 School Counselor

Nicole Cornacchia-Morgan, M.S. Ed. '12

I have been employed at Utica College as a Success Coach in the School of Online and Extended Studies since October 2012. In December 2013, I finished the coursework for the Certificate of Advanced Study program and am considering the internship for the spring 2015 semester.

I work with students enrolled in a 16-month accelerated second degree nursing program. These students already have a bachelor's degree; in our program they earn another degree and are eligible to sit for the NCLEX exam. This is a hybrid program with a site in Syracuse, NY where students complete their labs and testing. Their coursework is done online and they are placed in locals hospitals for their clinical work. I am the primary point person for these students from the point of acceptance through graduation. I help new students set up their accounts, get them in touch with their Student Financial Services Counselor to set up financing, collect their health documents need for clinical placement, explain and assist with the registration process and ordering textbooks, and collect final transcripts for those taking prerequisite courses. At their orientation, I do icebreakers to help everyone get to know each other. This August we will be opening a new site in St. Petersburg, Florida where another cohort will start this program. Once students begin the program, I call and email them on a regular basis to see how they are progressing. If necessary, I help them with study skills and time management and organization techniques. In addition, I assist the Director of Online Administrative Services with coordinating on-campus residencies for our fully online programs. I occasionally serve as her "back-up" and make Admissions Decisions for these programs.

The most difficult part of my job is not being able to help students with more serious issues and concerns. I've had a few students who struggled in the program, including some with mental health issues, but due to the limitations of my role, I refer them to our Counseling Office. The best part of my job is seeing my students progress through the program and graduate! Many of them are very overwhelmed by the online coursework and heavy workload at the start of the program. It's great to know that I can them succeed. Although I am not a School Counselor, I use many of the skills I learned in the program in my current role. I love my job and higher education and am still debating whether I want to be a School Counselor.

My new journey will begin in a few weeks. I have been accepted to the University at Buffalo in the Advanced Graduate Certificate Mental Health Counseling program. This program will allow me to gain the knowledge to become a license mental health counselor and make me eligible to take the New York State licensing exam in Mental Health Counseling. I am very excited about this opportunity.

Kate Jaffie, M.S. Ed. '12

I graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2010 with my BA in psychology and completed my M.S. Ed. in School Counseling at SUNY Oneonta in 2012. I am currently working to receive my CAS degree and permanent certification in New York State. Right after graduating from SUNY Oneonta I moved out to Flagstaff, AZ to start a new and exciting life. To obtain an Arizona School Counseling Certificate, I sent in my graduate school transcript, a copy of my New York State Provisional School Counseling Certificate and I obtained a Finger Print Clearance Card (or a background check). From there I was sent my Arizona Certificate and could begin applying to jobs.

Currently, I am starting my second year as Behavior Intervention Counselor at Killip Elementary School located in Flagstaff, AZ. Killip Elementary School is a culturally diverse setting, with 95% of our students on free and reduced lunch. In my position I head our schools Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports Committee, ensuring and advocating that our students are receiving the appropriate behavior interventions and supports at the Tier 1, 2 and 3 levels. I am the main responder to student behavioral crisis situations and work with students in small group and individual counseling sessions. I also head the schools anti-bullying program “The Kindness Revolution”, help plan and run our monthly family nights and help coach our Girls on the Run team. I work very closely with all students, parents, administrators, teaching and support staff and a number of community organizations.

To help our students be successful a holistic approach is necessary. Killip Elementary School is a very unique school building as there is a ton of community organizations and resources available to our families right on our school campus. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with a culturally diverse population of students and families. While there are definitely challenges to working with diverse populations (such as language barriers), the experiences I have had learning about these different cultures and connecting with these families is invaluable. I feel fortunate to have started my career in such an inspiring and community-oriented school.

Contact Us

Interested in sharing your story for a future edition? Need to update your email address or contact information? Want to share the news that you've found a school counseling position? Email