Tips on continuing NSCW momentum throughout the year!

Happy National School Counseling Week! The celebration that focuses public attention on the unique contribution of professional school counselors within U.S. school systems and how students are different as a result of school counselor's work takes places February 1-5, 2016.

This year is especially joyful, riding the coat tails of the first White House Ceremony recognizing the National School Counselor of the Year, Cory Notestine (CO), along with all 2015 finalists and semi-finalists. I was honored to be part of the event as California finalist, Tawnya Pringle, was my school counseling supervisor seven years ago at Monroe Clark Middle School in City Heights, San Diego. As a school counselor for 27 years Tawnya has worked at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and also teaches school counseling graduate students at San Diego State University. Her passion, dedication, and leadership, have made a positive impact on so many students, both directly and indirectly, which inspired me to nominate her to be the California School Counselor of the Year*. Not only did she win for California, she was also selected as one of the top five school counselors in the nation, leading to last Friday's ceremony at the White House. Seeing her on stage as Michelle Obama honored the winners and spoke about the critical role school counselors play in the lives of students was moving to say the least.
What a better way to continue the positive momentum of presidential recognition for school counselors than through promoting National School Counseling Week at your school! During this week my Facebook and Twitter accounts are often flooded with school counselors sharing the accolades or gifts they have received, but in my humble option, I prefer to celebrate partnerships that allow me to work collaboratively and effectively as a school counselor. Therefore, rather than expecting treats, my school counseling department is the one who gives them out. In addition, we pair those treats with the programs, data, and related ASCA standards from school counseling department activities. Some examples include:
• Highlighting the number of students who have improved their grades from D's and F's after participating in study skills groups
• Showing the increase in number of students who want to go to college, know the A-G requirements, have completed a 4-year plan aligned with A-G courses
• Displaying your school's Support Personnel Accountability Report Card (SPARC), which includes lots of great college and career readiness data
• Sharing the number of students who participated in intentional guidance groups to improve behavior, and the reduction in discipline referrals
• Identifying and featuring improvements in feelings of school safety and connectedness using California Healthy Kids Survey data
• Recognizing the increase in students who are taking and passing AP courses and/or are graduating from high school and entering post-secondary education programs 
Don't have a lot of data? That's okay too! Share information about the upcoming parent college night, or even better also include how many parents attended the last one. Use “qualitative data” (quotes) from students, parents, and/or about how school counselors support their success. Include your school counseling department's mission and the programs in place to support student development. The only “wrong way” to celebrate, in my (again humble) opinion, is to not celebrate at all! As school counselors we don't often like to pat ourselves on the back, as we are usually too busy giving pats to others, or we feel uncomfortable in the spotlight. However, if we don't market our school counseling programs, the work we do, and the benefits provided to students, others may not realize how hard we are working to support students' success. As a profession, we often feel frustrated that teachers, administrators, school boards, parents, and many others don't understand or value our work. National School Counseling Week is the perfect opportunity to appropriately shed light on our role and significance within the educational setting. If Michelle Obama is singing our praises, we need to pass along the message, so go out there and celebrate!
*You can nominate a candidate to be the California Association of School Counselor of the Year in the fall - check out more information for requirements here.