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TAKS testing has come and gone (temporarily) at my school. This is my first year as testing coordinator (any and all test-ing) and it’s been a real stretch learning the ropes. I can’t honest-ly say that I feel like I have learned what I need to know, but I’ll get another shot at it in April, don’t you worry! I can tell you that the TAKS testing has had an ironically positive impact on my overall health, however. I may have discovered the secret to a new me: the TAKS Diet!
Iused to drive to school at 6:30am and watch the neighbor-hood folk jogging, walking their dogs or riding their bikes. And I wondered, “Why am I driving to school at this hour and missing my chance to exercise? It’s not like I’ll leave early enough to get my exercise in at the end of the day…it’s dark by then and I’m worn out!” But, as I reflect on the last couple of weeks, I real-ize that I don’t need an “external” plan for fitness and health, my answer is right at my school, in the testing room (aka, my office). What, not convinced? I have recently lost 10 pounds…just try to match this ten step fitness regime:
1. Stretching: Try to hold door open to your office while pushing a cart of dictionaries (1 per 5 students) through the narrow opening. Repeat 10 times until you have all of the school dictionaries at your disposal.
2. Stair climbing: Lug a case of bottled water up the stairs for the faculty treat on TAKS day. Repeat 3 times.
3. Bicep curls: Count out thirty test books and raise them to your chest to place inside of buckets. Do this 25 X 3 times, for grades 9-11.
4. Bench press: Lift heavy, TAKS materials laden buckets onto top shelf of storage room. Repeat 25 times.
5. Squats: Bend down low to load lower buckets on shelves. Repeat 25 times.
6. Cardio: Run down the hall to the 9th grade center because you are overdue to meet the 300 students heading there for overflow. When done, run back to your office hoping to eat lunch.
7. Leg curls: flex your leg up and down to get rid of the cramps from running down the hall like a maniac. Repeat as needed.
8. Cut back on caffeine: pour a cup of coffee and then get a phone call and run out the door. When you return, it is cold. Do this several times before you give up.
9. Cut back on lunch: Overbook yourself for checking on testing rooms/proctors so that you don’t have time to eat your lunch (not even at your desk). The day of TAKS, eat a few bites of your lunch at 5pm, too tired to finish it.
10. Rev up your metabolism: wake up several times during the night worrying about bubbling, #2 pencils, small groups, bathroom relievers, and newly enrolling students. Focus on worrying as much as possible as it surely burns more calories than being complacent. Repeat as needed for at least a week prior to the big day.
End the day by driving home and watching the aforemen-tioned neighborhood folk jogging, walking their dogs, or biking. Wonder to yourself if “vicarious” exercise is better than none….
hope you have a terrific spring. The professional school counselors of Texas still have much work to do to carve out a permanent niche for our work so that we are doing what we have been professional trained to do…that of making a difference in student success. Continue to support the Texas School Coun-selor Association by attending our spring conferences and telling your colleagues about the benefit of membership.
TSCA Newsletter March 2009, Vol. 19, Issue 3
Table of Contents
President’s Message . . . .pg. 1 Bright Ideas from the TSCA VP’s . . . .pg. 2
NCLB (NO COUNSELOR LEFT BEHIND) . . . .pg. 2 2009 Crest Winners . . . . pg. 3
Alternative Certification For School Counselors . . . .pg. 4 Resources for College Bound Immigrant Students . . . pg. 5
Students Are STARS! . . . .pg. 6 Recognition Awards and Scholarships for 2009 . . . . . pg. 7
TSCA Board 2008/2009 . . . . pg. 8
o f t h e S c h o o l C o u n s e l o r
PlayHealthy , Wealthy , Wise Balance d LIFE
NCLB (NO COUNSELOR LEFT BEHIND)
...Become a Leader
by Sylvia A. Lopez, Ed.D
Texas professional school counselors are faced with the dilemma to create the best counseling and guidance program in an educational system where the main focus is all about the academics. However, the best school counselors know that we educate the whole child.
Most counselors take graduate courses at night while teaching all day to graduate with a Masters and attain a certification to become a school counselor. After gradu ation, school counselors are excited and eager to find that special counseling position and become that unique counselor who will make a difference in students’ lives. Then reality hits. Many school counselors are given the task of doing an extra amount of paperwork with very little time to work with their students, parents, and/or to develop a counseling program. In essence, some counselors are left behind to do the nitty-gritty work.
It is time to take action. It is time to take a seat at the leadership table. It is time to be viewed as a professional who has expertise in student development and student achievement. After all, it is about educating the whole child for success. Professional school counselors must learn to work smarter not harder. The following five leader-ship strategies may help you and your counseling program:
1. Set a Vision – What do you want to see happen in your counseling program? Your vision should be bigger than you can even imagine. Search for the opportunity to stay focused on students, be persistent and expect good things to happen. Lead with a purpose and become a school leader on your campus.
2. Build Relationships – Being a school counselor can be a lonely job especially if you are the only counselor in your school. Build your sphere of influence by connecting with other professionals. Stay current with best practices and share your expertise. Building relationships is critical to establish respect and support for your counseling program.
3. Be a Change Agent – A school counselor can learn from other individuals. Be a risk taker and take a leap of faith to creatively promote your counseling program. Sometimes fear keeps us from taking that leadership role. Face your fears with a confident heart. Fear may seem big and intimidating, but take that leap and do not give up. You have the knowledge and skills to teach and help others learn. Be proactive and stay focused on your vision. 4. Manage your Time – Practice living a good, uncomplicated life or STRESS will take over. Take time each week to plan. If you do not get some or none of the things done, move those items to the next day. Don’t panic about it. Learn to prioritize the unexpected things that may come up during the day, but never lose focus of your main purpose – the students.
5. Balance Work and Personal Life – Do you have PLOM disease? The author, Jimmy Cabrera who wrote What’s in Your Backpack? said, “If you do not take care of yourself PLOM disease will set in”. PLOM means poor little old me. PLOM disease may cause professional burnout. Learn to get away from the workload and spend quality time doing things that you enjoy. Practice living a good life, stay balanced, be patient, and invest time for a healthy mind and body. It makes for a happier you. Try these simple life changing ideas:
Get 8 hours of sleep • Drink plenty of water • Eat properly
Never be in a hurry • Be happy and enjoy the simple things in life
Be thankful • Give hugs and smiles to others
In conclusion, you are a master level professional who is trained to work with the struggling students and with the social and emotional needs of all students. No counselor will be left behind who takes a leadership role and becomes an advocate for a quality counseling program. Do things with all your heart; make people smile. Live with passion, and be thankful.
Bright Ideas From The TSCA VPs
This is the season of tests! Whether or not you are the campus testing coordinator, this time of year is busy and stressful. This edition of bright ideas will focus on advocacy and collaboration. We all need to work at advocating for appropriate job assignments and to learn to accept help and support as we get through the spring semester.
Our Elementary VP, Kim Wisener, hosts an Open House in her office during National Counselors’ Week with refreshments for teachers. She has a survey to fill out and a drawing for an extra guidance lesson. She has found that she gets good feedback from teachers regarding campus needs and triumphs in the counseling program.
Tammi Mackeben, Middle School VP, posts her calendar on the school website. This helps her stay organized. It is also an advo-cacy tool as it publicizes the many activities in which she is involved throughout the week and month to support student success and helps her justify saying “no” to some of the extra activities that may be asked of her.
At the Secondary Counseling Conference in February, the counselors from Denton Guyer conducted a sharing session entitled “How Do YOU Do It?” In this session counselors across the state broke up into groups and shared ideas for managing some of the specific tasks that we perform. It was such a great time of collaboration and sharing. It reminds us that there are so many resources out there if we just reach out to one another.
Don’t hesitate to contact the grade level VP’s if you ever have questions or need suggestions. Or contact counselors from neigh-boring schools. There are also wonderful resources through our professional organizations: ACA, ASCA, TCA, and TSCA. Utilize these resources to stay involved and current.
Again we encourage counselors of all levels from across the state to submit your “Bright Ideas” for inclusion in the newsletter. Send your ideas to any of the TSCA VPs:
Elementary: Kim Wisener - firstname.lastname@example.org • Middle School: Tammi Mackeben - email@example.com
High School: Bena Glasscock - firstname.lastname@example.org • Supervisor: Kathryn Everest - email@example.com
Educator: Gail Roaten - firstname.lastname@example.org
by Dr. Gail Roaten, Counselor Educator Vice-President
On Friday, February 6, the State Board for Educator Certification met to consider several items including proposals from two Regional Education Service Centers to offer alternative certification for school counselors. Representing TSCA and TACES, I got three minutes to speak out against this proposal. I was there alone; not one other counselor educator, school counselor, or the TEA Director was there to speak out against this proposition. Interestingly, the Council of Deans of Colleges of Education in the state had a representative there to speak out against the proposal.
With very little discussion or questioning, both Region 10 (Richardson) and Region 14 (Abilene) were approved to begin these alterna-tive certification programs. Region 10 had a much better proposal and is partnering with Texas A&M Commerce. The proposal from Region 14 was weak; no affiliation with a university and master’s level counselors teaching master’s level students. Personally, I think this is appalling. I still do not see how this is in keeping with Texas Administrative Code.
The safety and well-being of our students is of great concern to me. So is the quality of school counselors and pedagogy taught in these programs. As professional school counselors almost 2,000 strong, the members of TSCA now have some responsibilities. First, we must make sure our voices are heard at the upcoming board meeting where Texas Administrative Code for School Counselor Certification is going through review. We can suggest some wording changes that will protect our students by requiring more rigorous requirements to be met before placing individuals out in the field. We can also begin to meet with personnel from the various Regional Service Centers in the state and make sure the programs are sound. It is my understanding that numerous other service centers have plans to submit proposals within the next few months.
If you have been a member of TSCA for any amount of time, you know my stance on professional advocacy. There has never been a more critical time for this in our profession! With impending budget cuts, these alternative certification programs, and the uncertain economic and social times, we must clearly define who we are, what we do, and show how we are important to the success of our students. There is no more time to wait and there is no one else to do it but you.
The 2009 Elementary School Counselor Conference
The 2009 Elementary School Counselor Conference will be held May 3rd through May 5th in Austin at the Omni Austin Hotel Southpark and the Austin Airport Marriot South. There are links from the Texas Counseling Association web site (www.txca.org or www.schoolcounselor.org) for registration and hotel information. This conference is a very important time to rejuvenate and gain new information. Last year in Galveston, I received some really useful tips to use in my guidance program. I think as elementary counselors, we sometimes forget how important it is for us to connect with others in our field. Many junior high and high school counselors are part of a team but elementary counselors many times are on their own.
In my district, Katy I. S. D., our lead elementary counselor, Barbara Zeigler, has a meeting each month with new counselors, both new to the district and those who are new to the profession. This is a sharing time and gives the counselors additional support outside of their campus. When I was a new counselor, these meetings helped make my first year successful.
At our district elementary counselor meeting in January, we had a morning filled with gaining new information that we needed plus time for everyone to share things that they are doing on their campus that are working. In the afternoon, we met to plan guidance lessons that are shared district wide through our automated curriculum system. I always feel so renewed after these meetings ready to go back to my campus outfitted with some new tools to use. I think we all need to make the effort to attend conferences and plan meetings with other counselors to help us grow in our profession.
Alternative Certification for School Counselors:
by Michael Kaprelian, M.Ed., LPC, NCC
All too often we hear of immigrant students mentioned in the context of dropout rates in Texas public schools. In looking at a typical urban high school in Texas, it is not unusual for a senior class to be upwards of 50% smaller than the same group during their freshman year. The percentage of immigrant students who do not complete high school is indeed disproportionately high, but each year there also are more and more immigrant students who are high achieving, with high rankings and test scores. When these students start the college application process, they are faced with obstacles that to many seem insurmountable. The high school counselor is the first and often only resource these students have. Knowing answers to the common questions immigrant students have about college, and being able to provide information about available resources are key to a counsel-or’s effective guidance of this population.
Many student questions center around paying for college and financial aid. With the passage of H.B. 1403 in 2001, Texas be-came the first state in the US to grant in-state tuition to immigrant students. In 2005, the Texas Legislature revisited the issue of resident status through S.B. 1528, making little change to the original Bill, other than uniform residency requirements for all stu-dents, regardless of their legal status. While these two pieces of legislation provide tremendous benefit for immigrant stustu-dents, many still cannot afford the cost of higher education without some kind of financial aid.
Each spring, high school counselors make efforts to ensure that college bound seniors complete the Free Application for Fed-eral Student Aid (FAFSA). For legal residents, this form is best completed and submitted online. As undocumented immigrants are ineligible for federal student aid, they cannot submit the FAFSA. These students must, in most cases complete the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA). The TASFA must be completed on paper, and submitted in hard copy form to each Texas school to which the student is applying. The TASFA can be downloaded from the Adventures in Education website at www.aie.org, or by entering S.B. 1528 in the search box of most two and four-year colleges in the state.
While S.B. 1528 has helped make college attendance a reality for immigrant students in Texas, high school counselors still get questions from our students about merit-based scholarships. In most cases, merit-based scholarships ask for the student’s social security number, and undocumented students are ineligible. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) maintains a listing of scholarships that may not require a valid social security number to redeem the award. This list-ing is currently 22 pages long, and can be found at http://www.maldef.org/pdf/Scholarships.pdf.
Another valuable website for immigrant students is www.universityleadership.org. Started by a handful of University of Texas at Austin students in 2005, the University Leadership website provides a step-by-step list for immigrant students to use in plan-ning for college. It has a copy of the affidavit that immigrants must submit to colleges as required by S.B. 1528, as well as a checklist that students can use to help them with their college planning. The paper FAFSA can be downloaded from the web-site, and it also contains a link to the MALDEF scholarship listing.
Since 2001, the dream of college attendance has become a reality for many immigrant students in Texas. Regardless of our personal beliefs on the hot-button topic of immigration, school counselors are charged with providing accurate information and guidance to students. The hope that we can provide immigrant students through knowledge of resources can and should have a positive effect on school completion by the immigrant population.
Resources for College Bound
by Lynn Smith, TSCA Bylaws & Ethics Committee
Stars symbolize accomplishment. Test scores today determine who is a star. So students must pass tests
to be considered successful or to be a star. Some argue that students are tested too often and others, not
enough. Regardless of your position on testing, the reality is students must learn to pass tests to be
suc-cessful in today’s schools.
Each year most students in grades three and up accomplish this and most schools provide a supportive
environment for them. But, the drop out rate remains high for those who give up and/or refuse to submit
to the testing process. Students in this group remain a challenge for all educators and the major focus of
School counselors have a role to play in this reform from elementary through secondary testing. Somehow
we must help all students feel like stars, to feel successful during and after the testing process. This is not
easy even for those who pass and it is especially hard to help students who are not initially successful.
Facing the tests again and again until they are successful requires persistence that some students do not
Persistence can be intrinsic or extrinsic. When students do not have intrinsic motivation that keeps
perfor-mance high and attitude positive, counselors can be the extrinsic force that keeps them going. Groups or
class lessons focusing on self-esteem to build confidence can help all students go into testing with a
posi-tive attitude. Playing games or using media to teach study skills, organizational skills, and test taking
strat-egies make choosing the right answer at test time easier. Near test time, using brain exercises along with
some simple ways to show students how to relax will take away much of the anxiety experienced during
testing. Motivation through mentoring, positive notes, and personal supportive discussions telling students
that it is important to you that they do their best completes a circle of support that will help students be
School counselors can help build a community of learners, with staff and students positively focused on
success, making each more accountable and motivated to help everyone be prepared for tests and feel
like stars. Having a school wide support system helps everyone remain supportive when some do not
initially pass the tests. Last year when this happened to the youngest group of test takers in our school,
there seemed to be more discouraged talk among staff and students as we prepared for the retesting
re-quired in some grades. To help overcome this, I wrote a book titled “Students Are Stars”. I read it to these
students as a group and gave them a foam stick on star that was a small star inside a larger star. The story
describes a class whose wise teacher had a star wand that lit up. She compared the wand dimming when
the batteries were low and needed recharging to the students who felt less motivated when they tired
and quit working hard. She constantly reminded them of the star inside everyone that makes us feel good
when we do our best. She allowed the class to choose activities to help them boost their learning and to
work together with students who were not as successful on the first round of testing. At the end of the
year after retests, everyone celebrated the schools overall success because everyone had continued to try
their best and help each other. This year our instructional specialist enlisted the help of all staff to be
aca-demic coaches to our at risk students which has increased our school’s support system. As the counselor,
I coach those whose behavior interferes with classroom success. The nurse adopts those with health
Professional Recognition Awards
and Scholarships for 2009
by Michael Kaprelian
Each year TSCA recognizes outstanding counselors and other individuals who have had a positive impact on our profession. As chair of the Professional Recognition Committee, I invite our membership to give thoughtful consider-ation to nominconsider-ations. Our award categories have expanded in recent years to reflect the breadth of individuals who make a difference in the counseling profession. The nine categories of awards, named in honor of Rhosine Fleming, are Elementary Counselor, Middle/Junior High School Counselor, High School Counselor, Multi-Level Counselor, Counselor Educator, Counselor Supervisor, Advocate, Legislator, and Administrator. The Professional Recognition Committee may, at its discretion, choose not to name a winner of any category that does not have at least three nominees.
In 2008, two categories that did not have named winners were Legislator and Administrator. The Administrator category was new for 2008, and while an administrator was recognized with the Advocate award, the committee would like to see TSCA grant the Administrator award this year. This award presents a unique opportunity to recog-nize an administrator committed to supporting school counselors in our efforts to implement the Texas Comprehen-sive Developmental Model.
With 2009 being a legislative year, the committee hopes for many nominations for Legislator of the Year. In consid-ering your legislator, review the TCA Public Policy Agenda posted on the TCA website. Know where your legislator stands on issues important to school counselors, including their support of
SB 569(Lucio) which would limit to 10% the amount of time counselors spend on non-counseling duties. Each year TSCA also offers scholarships to high school seniors as well as to graduate students working toward completion of a masters degree and certification in counseling. One scholarship in the amount of $1000 is awarded to a high school senior whose counselor is a TSCA member. A second award is available in the amount of $2000 for a high school senior whose parent or grandparent is a TSCA member. This year we will offer up to four $500 scholarships to graduate students pursuing masters degrees and certification in school counseling.
In our busy lives, it often takes a conscious effort to stop for a moment to consider the truly significant contributions that colleagues and others have made to our profession. The TSCA Professional Recognition Committee invites you to take that moment to consider making a nomination this year. Nomination Packets have a postmark deadline of June 1, 2009 Scholarship applications must be postmarked by April 15, 2009. Forms are available on the TSCA website: http://www.txca.org/tca/TSCA_Home.asp
problems, etc. We are learning to match our strengths to support the different needs of our students so
they all can feel like stars.
Success for the students in the book and in our schools is possible when we are positive (believing
every-one can pass), motivated (doing our very best work), helpful (sharing our time and resources with those
who struggle), and persistent (not giving up until we reach our goals). Counselors who support students’
academic growth promote good mental health. Modeling positive language, incorporating thinking skills
into guidance lessons, making learning more fun with different approaches during academic coaching and
mentoring all show students the star inside waiting to shine. Testing is just one facet of education that
should not be allowed to dim the hopes and dreams of any group of students. Counseling programs that
address testing success creatively will be an asset to the school and a resource students can use as they
face future challenges throughout their lives.
TSCA Board 2008/2009
TSCA Board 2008/2009
Permit No. 182
Texas Counseling Association
A Division of the Texas Counseling Association 1204 San Antonio, Ste. 201
Austin, Texas 78701