Paradise Valley Schools celebrate school counselors during National School Counseling Week
National School Counseling Week 2021, “School Counselors: All in for All Students,” sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), will be celebrated from Feb. 1–5, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do.
The special week honoring school counselors provides recognition for school counselors who implement comprehensive school counseling programs, a vital part of the educational process for all students as they meet the challenges of the 21st century.
In Paradise Valley Schools, counselors at the middle and high school levels work with students to examine their strengths, interests, and talents to identify personal career interests.
“Once students become excited about their possible career and postsecondary options, they become more optimistic about their academics, participate more fully in school activities, and understand that their organization and time management skills have relevance,” said Mary Harris, a lead counselor.
The Expanded Role of A School Counselor
School counselors of today are much different from guidance counselors from the past. They are in the classrooms, use technology, use data, as well as implement school goals to create a comprehensive program for all students. Counselors are certified, experienced educators with a master’s degree in school counseling. Their main goal is to find each student’s “why” and to propel them into a positive mindset and path to achieve that goal.
During the pandemic, the role of school counselors has expanded to ensure students are maintaining a healthy mind. Their priority has shifted to keep students informed to ensure virtual learning does not widen the achievement gap. School counselors still provide students with the information and materials needed to prepare for college.
In addition to assisting students with college and career goals, school counselors help students work through emotional, medical, and social issues, including panic attacks and high anxiety by using mindfulness tools. With the pandemic, school counselors are helping students cope with the death of a loved one. The counselors work with outside agencies and the homeless liaison to ensure students have the tools they need during this difficult time.
“We help students through crisis situations, academic downfalls, emotional turmoil, medical issues, behavioral struggles, and general adolescent behaviors to learn and grow through these experiences to earn that high school diploma while being a good human. We help each one of our 450 students in some way get through. The amount of help depends on what each student needs. There are countless success stories of students overcoming some type of turmoil to emerge on the other side, a better human,” added Harris.
Middle and high school counselors are an integral part of each student’s academic team. Counselors work with administrators, teachers, and parents to develop a comfortable, healthy school environment.
“We view the student as a whole child and provide the academic, social/emotional, and college and career support each student needs. We support them in times of crisis, as well as encourage a positive mindset to move them forward to being productive adults. We can offer them the support and encouragement that they may not feel they receive in other areas of their life,” said Koni Withers, a lead counselor.
The Ultimate Goal – Graduation
The role of a school counselor is to help and support students in learning and achievement. PVSchools provides counselors with Naviance Family Connection to help with the Arizona Educational and Career Action Plan responsibilities, but also provides students with access to scholarships – colleges and career, and personality assessments to determine the best careers for them.
Harris explained, “We feel like we are a member of a team, as we alone, cannot help a student graduate. We need the help of our teachers, parents, the community, and students to assume ownership of the process of quality education. We have many resources available to aid learning and achievement as we guide students on the correct academic path while encouraging self-evaluation and interests to drive their mindset and motivation. By seeing students as individuals, we feel that each one who earns their diploma has had the help of a team of people to achieve that goal, and we feel very proud of the many hours we have spent with each and every graduate.”
During National School Counseling Week, don’t forget to thank your teen’s school counselors for all they do on behalf of students.