HCS School Counselor Connection


College and Career Connection Week 2014

Wow, what a great week! You all did a fantastic job with college and career week programs and activities. I'm confident your work with CCCW helped to plant seeds of inspiration, motivation and imagination. Many of you posted great pictures and ideas on Edmodo. That's a great way to brag on your students, share ideas and inspire other counselors.

I'd like to give a HUGE thank you to the CCCW Committee: Ashley Miller, UAH; Elizabeth Dotts Fleming, Schools Foundation; Kaleb Owens, Katie Jewart and Akua Boateng, Drake and Calhoun Career Coaches; Scott Gilies, HCS Director of Transportation; Parent Volunteers from HCS Council of PTA's.

College Day for our juniors and seniors at UAH was a huge success as well. MANY, MANY thanks to our high school counselors for collecting hundreds of permission slips and organizing the trip on their end. Overall, students were well behaved and actively engaged in conversations with college recruiters and career cluster representatives.

Be thinking about how we can improve College and Career Connection Week 2015!

I cannot let CCCW 2014 end without giving a shout out to my alma mater, Auburn University. I'm proud to be an Auburn Tiger and am thankful I had the opportunity to attend Auburn and other excellent post-secondary institutions (Calhoun, Troy, Alabama, and UAB).

School Counselors Play a Significant Role in College and Career Readiness

First, this topic is a newsletter unto itself :-) But, I'm inspired and committed to keep it in the for front of our work as School Counselors. The buzz phrase "College and Career Ready" has been around for a couple of years. What does it really mean to be "College and Career Ready?" In a nut shell, it means students are prepared for post-secondary education/training; they have a plan for life after high school that includes either employment, higher education, technical training, military, etc. and students are NOT having to enroll in remedial courses prior to moving on to required course work.

If you have NOT reviewed the ALSDE's Plan 20/20, you MUST do so immediately! Why??? School Counselors play a significant role in Plan 20/20!

PLAN 2020 is the strategic plan for education in Alabama. The goal? Preparing all students to be successful in college and/or career upon graduation from high school. A “prepared graduate” is defined in PLAN 2020, and the four priorities listed below establish the foundation of the plan.

  • Alabama's 2020 Learners.
  • Alabama's 2020 Support Systems.
  • Alabama's 2020 Schools/Systems.
  • Alabama's 2020 Professionals.

Each of the four priorities contain objectives, strategies, and targets/indicators designed to focus all available resources, completely address all critical aspects needed for each component, and make significant measureable progress by the year 2020. Implementation of PLAN 2020 will improve student growth and achievement, close the achievement gap, increase the graduation rate, and increase the number of students graduating high school that are college- and career-ready and prepared to be successful in our global society.

Here's a link to Plan 20/20 http://web.alsde.edu/Home/General/PLAN_2020.aspx

In addition, HCS is working tirelessly to ensure equitable learning environments for all students. As Schools Counselors, we're working tirelessly to remove barriers to college/post-secondary access for our students. As I've stated in our counselor meetings, there's a professional shift in school counseling taking place both in Alabama and the nation with regard to our role, the work we do with students and the amount of time we're able to spend in direct service to students. PLEASE stay involved professionally and continue to diligently pursue professional development in whatever form to keep yourself on top of this professional shift.

Here's a link to a MUST read article from Education Week just posted this week: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/09/10/03counselors.h34.html

There are four professional development opportunities to help you become "College and Career Ready" savvy via STI-PD. I strongly encourage and recommend you take advantage of these online courses even if you're a veteran counselor:

  1. Creating a College-Going Culture for All Students (STI-PD #CCTI101) for K-12 counselors - starts Oct. 1.
  2. College, Career and Academic Planning (STI-PD #CCTI202) for K-12 counselors - starts Oct. 1.
  3. Financial Aid and College Application (STI-PD #CCTI303) for 9-12 counselors - starts Oct. 1.
  4. College and Career Advising in Middle Grades (STI-PD #CCTI404) for 6-8 counselors - starts Oct. 1 and Jan. 7.

AND.......The American School Counselor Association (ASCA University) is offering the following:

College Admissions Specialist -- Coming November 2014
With the increased push to ensure all students graduate college- and career-ready, it’s more important than ever before to make sure you’re up to speed on the latest issues in the college admissions process. ASCA’s College Admission Specialist training gives you the information and knowledge you need to help your students during the college search and admission process ($99). ASCA U Specialist designations are valid for five years.

Lastly, as I mentioned before, there's a professional shift taking place in school counseling. Need proof? Four significant events have taken place on the national level to promote and spur the professional shift of school counselors:

  1. First Lady, Michele Obama, has an education initiative called #ReachHigher, in which educators and school counselors are encouraged to help all students reach higher by furthering their education. You must review!
  2. Mrs. Obama spoke at the ASCA conference this summer. I cannot put into a few words what her speech means to our profession and promoting College and Career Readiness. You must watch!
  3. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, sent a letter to all state education leaders encouraging them to support school counselors and the role we play. A must read!
  4. With the forces listed above and other national school counseling leaders, Harvard University's College of Education hosted a forum called the College Opportunity Agenda: Strengthening School Counseling and College Advising. Great minds gathered and talked about the barriers for students and school counselors in college planning. There's a video and an outline of the agenda....I encourage you to review!

Go to http://scope4scs.org/2014/07/04/reach-higher/ to find links to all of these national initiatives. Also, be sure to take a look at the #ReachHigher video and send me a picture of you and your #ReachHigher goal :-) Each goal should be directly related and specific to the goal of ensuring ALL students "reach higher" in their pursuit of higher education after high school. Each submission will be eligible for a gift card drawing. Plus, I'm going to create and publish a Slidely with your #ReachHigher pictures. Make sure you represent!!!

Lastly, on the state level, I recently served on the ALSDE committee to update our State Plan for school counseling and guidance. Here's a note from my friend Meg Smith, ALSDE, School Counselor Specialist, who led this effort:

"I wanted to let you know that the draft of the new State Plan was presented at the State Board of Education meeting this morning. They had some good comments about the content of the document, the need for counselors to be allowed to be counselors, and how pleased they were to see this document. The next step is for the State Plan to be an agenda item on the October Board Meeting agenda."

Are you ready to ensure students are College and Career Ready?

Anti-bullying with PBIS Curriculum

As a district, we began implementing the PBIS anti-bullying curriculum last year. This is a comprehensive curriculum for elementary, middle school and high school. Each school is expected to implement the PBIS curriculum in grades K-10. In grades 11-12, we've determined the best approach is deal with bullying on a case-by-case basis.

Each counselor has the PBIS anti-bullying curriculum in their School Counselor Handbook. I consider this curriculum a minimum approach to anti-bullying efforts taking place in your school. You are encouraged and expected to implement other activities such as No Place for Hate that support a comprehensive anti-bullying program. Anti-bullying training is always going to be an on-going process. It's not a week, an assembly or a single activity. It's about changing the climate and culture of your school which will always be a work in progress.

Here's the link to the PBIS anti-bullying prevention website http://www.pbis.org/school/bully-prevention. The site includes other materials as well. Please see the calendar for up-coming PBIS bully prevention training.

Coming soon to HCS.....Anonymous Alerts! Via email or text, students will be able to anonymously report bullying and other concerns regarding student safety. Training on Anonymous Alerts will be provided to all administrators, counselors, and safety/security personnel. Watch for a training announcement!

Important Dates, Events, and Trainings

1. Sept. 25 - ASCA Webinar - School Climate: Fostering Student Development

2. Sept. 30 – “Counseling for Equity” Training - Mandatory training for all counselors, 8:00 - 4:30, Merts Community Room

3. Sept. 30 – Deadline to update school guidance and counseling plan

4. Oct. 1 – ASCA Webinar – Preparing All Students for Post-Secondary Success Through Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

5. Oct. 2 – Tentative date for PBIS & NPFH Bully Prevention Training 1:30 – 3:30

6. Oct. 2 – Tentative date for New Counselor Training 8:00 – 12:00

7. Oct. 3 – “Making a Good Brain Great” training for School Counselors, Nurses, and Social Workers, 8:00 – 12:00, Lee High School Lecture Hall

8. Oct. 6-10 – Fall Break J

9. Oct. 15 – PSAT (high school)

10. Oct. 21 - ACT Plan (10th grade) – make-up day, Oct. 22

11. Oct. 21 - ACT Explore (8th grade) – make-up day, Oct. 22

12. Oct. 27 – 31 – HCS Red Ribbon Week

13. Oct. 27 – Naviance Training for High School Counselors, 8:00 – 3:30, Merts Community Room

14. Oct. 28 – Military Child Coalition Workshop (refer to email for time and location)

15. Nov. 3-7 – HCS “I Applied to College Week”

16. Nov. 6 – Naviance Training for High School Counselors, 8:00 – 3:30, Merts Community Room

17. Nov. 12 – ASCA Webinar – Creating Service Learning Projects in Elementary School to Develop Leaders in Action

18. Nov. 19-21 – Alabama Counseling Association Annual Conference (Huntsville)

**Watch for additional calendar updates :-)