Sunday, November 27, 2011


Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to count our blessings and be grateful for everything we have and appreciate. I think it is important as school counselors to help students reflect on and express gratitude. Thinking about what we have and the people we appreciate can help alleviate depression and anxiety. Take time each day to think about what you are grateful for, it will improve your overall mood and effectiveness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taking Time for Wellness

Hopefully the Thanksgiving break will give all school counselors a chance to "monitor emotional and physical health and practice wellness to ensure optimal effectiveness." That is part of the recently revised ASCA Ethical Guidelines. Reconnecting with family and friends during the holidays can improve mental health. Eating a meal with people we feel close to is a valued ritual for human beings. Try to find time to take a walk in these last days of fall or do some other exercise you enjoy. You can remind yourself it is your professional ethical obligation to do self-care.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP)

Are you working to move your counseling program to the next level? Are you committed to delivering a comprehensive and data-driven school counseling program? If your program successfully answers the question, "How are students different because of what school counselors do?" then you're ready to show the world that your program is "ramped up."
My school counseling program was the first one is our county to RAMP (2011). My state SCA paid my application fee because I was a member and asked for support. My school division is asking all counseling departments to seek RAMP designation within 5 years. Based on the ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs, the RAMP designation:
• Gives you the confidence that your program aligns with a nationally accepted and recognized model
• Helps you evaluate your program and identify areas for improvement
• Increases your skills and knowledge of school counseling
• Enhances your program’s efforts toward academic achievement and student success
• Identifies your school as an exemplary educational environment
RAMP applications are reviewed once a year by a panel of school counseling professionals and the designation is held for three years. If you want to learn more about the RAMP process go to

Saturday, November 19, 2011

School Staff Must Respond to Bullying

My school has a well developed bullying prevention and intervention program but I know that sometimes bullying still is ignored. I can't get ten year old Ashlynn, that hung herself because she was being bullied, this week off my mind. No one would help her get peers to stop calling her “fat”, “ugly,” and “a slut.” ” Her mother said, “She went to three different teachers, and they told her, ‘Ashlynn, you need to go sit down and stop tattling." We use the Steps to Respect curriculum. It points out that all staff have an obligation to receive any report of bullying and harassment and investigate it. We require teachers, counselors, and administrators to coach both the student being bullied and bullying separately and document a plan to address the bullying. Parents of both parties are informed. There is a mandated follow-up the next week because bullying is a pattern of behavior and frequently it keeps happening unless adults really get involved. I hope the tragic death of this young girl will make educators take their responsibility to keep schools safe.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Career Fair

We had our bi-annual career fair today for grades 3-5. We were fortunate to have 28 presenters come to our multipurpose room that represented the 6 career paths: business, helping, health, nature, creative, and fixing building and technology. The students were given a sheet to take notes about the 2 career paths that most interest them then they were allowed to circulate and visit other occupations. They have a follow up writing assignment to write a paragraph about what they learned. The evaluations from the presenters were very positive. They felt the students learned a lot about a variety of occupations. We will get the teachers evaluations back next week. This year we asked all presenters to talk about their college or institution where they got training as well. Several even wore their college gear. My part-time counselor did a super job getting a wide variety of presenters so that all paths had at lest 3 presenters and more for helping. It was very rewarding to see the students so engaged asking meaningful questions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 National Survey of School Counselors

Even though they did not survey elementary counselors this new report definitely has implications for all school counselors. There is a lot of interesting data in the report. I was surprised that 49% of the secondary school counselors surveyed were former teachers. There were many indicators that counselors felt their talents and training were underutilized in their schools. Only 16% of the counselors rated their own professional training as high. A majority (^1%) supported accountability measures for counselors. The full report is available for download.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Veterans Day

As this weekend winds down I wonder if schools should be in session on Veterans Day so educators can help students understand the significance of this holiday. I know we make sure to include the military as career visitors to our lower grades and participants at our career fair for upper grades during National Career Development Month. Some of our teachers did a great job with special activities on Thursday since we were off Friday. I watched two very moving tributes to the service veterans and their families provide our country over the weekend. I hope some of the students in my school watched as well. Citizenship is one of the character traits we teach at our school and is obviously a trait all those who have served value. As counselors we need to be sure we model respect for the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nurture Shock by P. Bronson & A. Merryman

I admit I am 2 years late in finally reading this valuable book, but better late than never. The chapter that struck me the most was "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race." Although my husband and I are white both our children are adopted. Our daughter is white but our son is Asian. We talked with both children about race from the time we brought our son home. His skin was obviously a different color as were his hair and eyes than his blonde, blue-eyed sister. Reading this book made me realize that most white parents purposely avoid discussing race with their children so they will be color-blind. Of course that is not true. Young children are very aware of differences and without discussion of race will select friends that look like them if available. I thought the study where children could be encouraged to play in mixed race groups in first grade but by third grade the developmental window had passed was very informative. To me this points to the need for discussion of race with young children before the window shuts. Is it any surprise then that the odds of a white high-schooler in America having a best friend of another race is only 8% (92% have a best friend of the same race). For blacks, the odds are not much better 15% (85% of black high schoolers best friends are black. The chapter goes on to suggest using multicultural children's literature and community service projects as a way to start meaningful dialogue about race. The book emphasizes that both parents and educators need to be discussing race with children and modeling cross racial relationships.