Friday, October 7, 2016

Counseling Advisory Council

I was originally trained as a school counselor in Missouri the home of comprehensive school counseling programs, including advisory committees, back in the day. Fast forward to my career as a school counselor in Virginia where our supervisor told every school they must have an advisory “committee” yet most of our schools did not. In the past 5 years our district has been pushing for ALL schools to implement the ASCA National Model and encouraging schools to RAMP but the advisory council remains a hurdle for many both experienced and new to the profession. Each time I have started an ASCA Model program at a school I had my Advisory Council meet 6 times the first year and 4 times every year after we got the program up and running. I am the full-time counselor at a Re-RAMPed school and I enjoy and get something out of every meeting with my Council.
The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to:
provide advisement concerning program development and annual goals;
review progress toward program goals through examination of data and the program audit;
support the program via advocacy (i.e., PTA funding for projects);
provide a two-way communication link between the school counseling program and school and community stakeholders.
The membership of my committee is half staff and half parents/community members. I solicit a range of staff to represent primary and upper grades, special education, and a specialist. I invite parents that have children who are young and older, members of our biggest minority group, and those who have a special interest in education or mental health. I also include the PTA leaders who organize parent workshops which we co-sponsor.
I send out the agenda before our meetings. This week we had our first meeting of the school year (picture above) with the focus on reviewing last years data, draft program goals, and plans for parent events sponsored by the counseling program. I send out minutes about a week after the meeting and invite any additional ideas.
Members typically serve for 3 years so about 1/3 of the committee is new each year. One of the administrators comes so they both attend 2 meetings a year. I always get good suggestions for things to add or refine based on the input of this dynamic group. I encourage all counselor to establish and take advantage of an active counseling program advisory council.

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