National School Counseling Week will be celebrated in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, February 3–7, 2014, to highlight the unique contribution of professional school counselors to the learning environment and the impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. In addition to what individual buildings are doing to acknowledge their work, counselors have been encouraged to spend the week sharing information with students, staff, and parents about what they do and how students are better off because of the services they provide.
The special week provides recognition for school counselors who "implement comprehensive school counseling programs, a vital part of the educational process for all students as they meet the challenges of the 21st century," noted Paul Hayes, Executive Manager of Learning Supports.
Professional school counselors are certified, experienced educators with a master's degree in guidance and counseling. The combination of their training and experience makes them an integral part of the total educational program. They are actively engaged in helping students examine their abilities, strengths, interests and talents; work in a partnership with parents as they encounter the challenges of raising children in today's world; focus on positive ways to enhance students' social/personal, educational, and career development; work 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.
The District currently employs 48 school counselors and is in the second year of a three-year Professional Learning endeavor, Transforming School Counseling. The program is expected to clarify the role of the professional school counselor, provide leadership skills to counselors so they become integral members of building leadership teams, educate counselors on the practice of using data to identify opportunity and access barriers for students, implement strategies for addressing those barriers, and build a collaborative relationship between counselors, teachers, and administrators to collectively address all aspects of the achievement gap.
“Through Transforming School Counseling, District school counselors are working on goal areas that align with their building school improvement plans,” explained Stephanie Schutt, K-8 Learning Supports Facilitator. “Counselors are learning how to collect data and implement strategies that will support the desired building results.”
National School Counseling Week is sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).