‘A champion in their corner’: School counselors raise awareness during National School Counseling Week
School counseling can serve as an essential “backstage” for students’ learning experience, said Karla Aaron, a school counselor with Nevada County Adult Education and North Point Academy.
“I take that role very seriously, because if I do my job right … kids are able and capable of learning, they’re in the right spot to be learning, are scheduled in the right level of courses, and have support outside of the classroom,” said Aaron.
This week, Feb. 1-5, is National School Counseling Week, and the American School Counselor Association has chosen “School Counselors: All In for All Students” as this year’s theme.
National School Counseling Week, meant to “(highlight) the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career,” is celebrated the first week of each February.
Aaron is celebrating through outreach, both taking the occasion to express support toward students and families, and promoting awareness within district leadership.
A challenge for this week has people completing the statement, “I’m all in …” Aaron emailed North Point Academy students and families Monday to express the ways in which she is “all in.”
Among several other statements, she wrote, “I am all in because each student deserves to have a champion in their corner. A person who is rooting for them, believes in them, and celebrates their every success.”
In a Monday email to Nevada Joint Union High School District leadership, Aaron emphasized the distinction between “guidance counselor” — an outdated term according to the American School Counselor Association — and “school counselor,” a term she said more accurately reflects the role in its current form.
Currently, according to Aaron, the role filled by school counselors is less “reactive” than what many remember as the “guidance counseling” of the past, after becoming more comprehensive and data-driven over the years.
For example, according to Aaron, counselors in her district have tailored their approach to counseling by analyzing student survey input to find which issues are actually important to them.
On the effectiveness of recent student and community outreach, Aaron said she has had concerns at times when she has not received feedback, but there have been moments which confirm the difference made.
For example, she said, one student reached out after not replying to several of her messages sharing resources, saying, “I’ve been paying attention, and what I know is that when I do need help in that area, you’re the one I’ll go to.”
Joy Nocerino, a school counselor at Lyman Gilmore Middle School, wrote in an email Monday, “For me, at this time in the world, the most important thing about this week is bringing more awareness about my role and what I do here at Gilmore to support the students … to the students.”
“I want kids to know that I don’t just talk to them about their grades,” said Nocerino, elaborating that she aims to be a “trusted adult” for them on campus, whether they need to vent or share good news.
Nocerino, a former Lyman Gilmore student herself, said her own difficulties feeling “unseen” while she was in school motivated her to become a school counselor, so that she could “see those kids that just are not seen.”
“I wake up every morning pinching myself,” wrote Nocerino. “I am so honored and humbled to be a part of students’ lives on so many different levels.”
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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