Becky Brannock: School counselors help students, parents navigate | Columns

Diana J. Smith

National School Counseling Week 2021 is being celebrated all across America Feb. 1-5. This year’s theme, “School Counselors: All in for All Students,” focuses on the distinct contributions being made by school counselors within our school settings.

Having a special week set aside to honor school counselors provides recognition for those professionals who work hard at implementing comprehensive school counseling programs, which is a vital part of the educational process for all students as they meet the challenges of the 21st century.

School counselors are:

• Actively engaged in helping students examine their abilities, strengths, interests and talents.

• For working in a partnership with parents as they encounter the challenges of raising children in today’s world.

• For focusing on positive ways to enhance students’ academic, postsecondary and social/emotional development.

• Working with teachers and other educators to provide an educational system where students can realize their potential and set healthy, realistic and optimistic aspirations for themselves.

School counselors are certified, experienced educators with a master’s degree in school counseling. The combination of their training and experience makes them an integral part of the total educational program.

“School counselors work with all students to remove barriers to learning by addressing students’ academic concerns, postsecondary options and social/emotional skills,” said Jill Cook, American School Counselor Association executive director. “School counseling programs help to increase student achievement and provide a much-needed resource for students, parents, teachers and administrators. School counselors are integral to student success.”

Needless to say, the success of our students nationwide has been impacted in the past 10 months. When I look back at the past year and think about all of the challenges that the pandemic brought to our educational community, and for that matter what we are still facing as we enter the new year, the word “resilience” readily comes to mind. Resilience comes from the Latin word, resilire, which means to bounce back.

With the sudden onset of remote learning this past spring, educators and specifically school counselors had to be flexible and resilient in how they performed their roles this past year but still be able to meet the needs of the students with which they work. They continued to do their classroom counseling lessons using Zoom or other platforms and met with students for individual remote counseling, while diligently trying to support their colleagues and parents. It certainly has taken everyone working together to ensure that learning and the social/emotional needs of students have been met.

“School Counselors: All in for All Students” is evident now more than ever to make sure that students are getting what they need to be successful throughout this pandemic and as we move forward into the future. With this in mind, I am reminded of a quote I once read by Desmond Tutu: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Peace to all.

Becky Brannock, Ph.D., LPC, is a Pittsburg (Kan.) State University professor and school counseling program director for the Department of Psychology and Counseling. She can be reached at [email protected].

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