Another counselor saw Laura on a day when she needed to talk, and Laura formally switched to that counselor. With her new counselor Laura felt comfortable to speak about her home and school life. Laura realized that her new counselor was the type of school counselor that was needed in all schools and as her counselor became a mentor for her. Laura wished to continue spreading the tradition of effective school counselors. She wished to help others as her school counselor had helped her navigate high school (L. Smestad, personal communication, July 5, 2016). Laura’s Situation at St. Pius With Laura being the only professional school counselor at St. Pius she services almost five hundred students from pre-k 3 thru seventh grade. Being the first fulltime professional school counselor, Laura’s situation is unique in that there has not been a foundation previously set by another counselor. Laura has had the opportunity to introduce new ideas with little push back from faculty. Being “self-taught” in the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) model during her time as an undergrad, Laura understands the importance of implementing the model (ASCA, 2012). Laura began work almost with a blank slate being able to introduce the
PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL COUNSELOR 4 ASCA model to St. Pius without disrupting a previously set framework as the prior school counselor visited classes twice a year and spent little time engaging in counseling sessions. She believes her most successful implementation has been being an active presence around campus and making students aware of her position. The implementation process is ongoing, but with a mostly supporting faculty Laura has had positive feedback when bringing new ideas to the attention of the principal (L. Smestad, personal communication, July 5, 2016). Once a month Laura has classroom lessons for the students in kindergarten thru seventh grade, and once a quarter she sees the pre-k students. According to ASCA (2012), Laura as a school counselor should spend at least eighty percent of her time doing direct services for her students. As Laura is the first professional school counselor St. Pius has staffed fulltime, she has been able to explain that her time is best served in counseling students, spending ninety-five to ninety- eight percent of her time in counseling sessions (L. Smestad, personal communication, July 5, 2016). While she has been assigned small tasks unrelated to her job as a counselor, Laura has found ways to accomplish her work by creating lunch groups that take her off of recess duty (ASCA, 2012; L. Smestad, personal communication, July 5, 2016). Laura’s implementation of lunch groups, separated by grade and gender, have been successful for the students in building relationships with one another and making decisions pertaining to high school. Her groups, lasting six to eight weeks, include topics such as change in the home and healthy relations while all fourth graders participate in a group focused on moving to middle school. Every week Laura
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- Spring '14