CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ West Virginia school counselors will join their colleagues nationwide next week as they celebrate National School Counseling Week, Feb. 4-8.
The weeklong event, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), focuses attention on the contributions professional school counselors make. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact that counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 23 passed a National School Counseling Week Resolution. And on Jan. 29, the Senate passed a National School Counseling Week Resolution. This marks the first time both houses of Congress have passed the resolutions in advance of National School Counseling Week.
The special week honoring school counselors 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."
School counselors help students examine their abilities, strengths, interests and talents; work in partnership with parents; focus on positive ways to enhance student 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.
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.
West Virginia has begun stepping up efforts to assure that all students have access to school counselors and a developmental comprehensive school counseling program that is aligned with the American School counseling Program National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs.
West Virginia policy defines the role of the school counselor and sets the stage for counselors to provide preventive programs and interventions that address academic, career, and personal/social needs of students, while moving away from using these well educated counselors as clerks and quasi administrators. With the increased personal and social needs of students, counselors must spend more time conducting classroom guidance lessons to teach students skills they need to achieve success in school, the home and community, while still being available to meet individually with students.
To support efforts to increase the effectiveness of school counseling programs, the West Virginia Department of Education has created a full-time school counselor coordinator position. Barbara Ashcraft, former president of the ASCA, is working on a statewide basis and on a county-to-county basis to provide professional development and needed resources to enhance school counseling programs.
For more information, contact: Barbara Ashcraft, school counseling coordinator, at (304) 558-2699, or the Communications Office at (304) 558-2699.