Wednesday, March 12, 2014

School Counselor Space nominated for a Liebster Award

Thank you Christina of Dream Big School Counseling Blog for the nomination. I am finally taking some time to sit down and accept the nomination and follow through on what comes next...

In keeping with the rules (shared at the end of my post) here are my answers to your questions: 

1.What are your favorite blogs?

2.Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging as a result of finding the School Counselor Blog, who doesn't say that? I created School Counselor Space to share my professional journey, connect with other school counselors, learn from my less successful school counseling endeavors, promote professional growth & inspire greatness for myself & others.

3.Why did you become a school counselor?

I started my career journey as a Paralegal and after a couple of years of consoling people that had been wronged and countless boxes of tissue later, I realized that this was my true calling. Interestingly, in looking back at a Strong Interest Inventory I took my last year of college, school counseling was a listed career possibility.

4.What are five resources a new school counselor should have (can be any level)?
  • Confidence
  • A strong assistant/secretary
  • Organizational skills that are always a work in progress
  • Technology
  • Flexibility and hunger for knowledge & personal growth
5. What is the best part of your job?

Opening students minds up to possibilities they didn't know existed and helping them plan for and create a satisfying and productive reality for life after high school. One of my seniors this year will be a first generation college student. He has a clear vision and a plan to see it through. I am so proud of him & his courage to step outside of his comfort zone, even when it meant ruffling some feathers at home. I look forward to hearing about his continued success in college & life.

6. What is your #1 go to resource? Twitter, of course. :)

7. What is your guilty pleasure television show? Real Housewives-all of them.

8. What is your favorite part of the school day?

Homeroom-you never know who will walk through the door and every other day I have the time to run groups in conjunction with our RTI program.

9. What book are you currently reading? I don't think we have enough time or room, but here is a snapshot:

10.How do you use technology in school counseling?

I'd be lost without it. IPad for meetings, college applications, portfolio checks etc., Twitter for my counseling department, Sign up Genius for students to sign up for meetings and group sessions, GoogleDocs & Google Forms to collect & share data. I also Smore to make web based flyers & Prezi to make web based presentations. Read about how I use all of this technology here on my blog: Prezi post, SMORE post, Examples of my use of GoogleDocs post.

11.Who inspired you to become a school counselor?

All of the counselors I was exposed to that just didn't seem to give it their all; I knew the future of America deserved better. I have a real passion for school counseling and always strive to find better ways to meet my student's needs & grow professionally.

My nominations for the Liebster Award are:
The rules are:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
5. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them.

Here are your questions nominees:
  1. What are your favorite blogs?
  2. Why did you start blogging?
  3. Share 3 things about yourself that most of your followers wouldn't know.
  4. What is your favorite thing about your job?
  5. What would you be doing if you weren't in the School Counseling field?
  6. What do you do for self care?
  7. What are your top 5 tech tools?
  8. What books are you currently reading?
  9. What's your guilty pleasure TVshow?
  10. What is your favorite quote?
  11. If you could live any where in the world where would it be?
Congrats nominees!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Add a Little Happiness to your Freshman Orientation

Every March I speak at Freshman Orientation about the role of the school counselor. I mainly focus on what I do, as opposed to what the parents in the audience may perceive I do (or don't do) based in their personal experience with a "G" counselor.

I try to freshen my presentation each year by adding a new perspective or new stories, but this year I think it is time for a new approach all together. I have been serving the same community for 6, next year will make 7, years; so I think by now they all know I am a Professional School Counselor and what that means for their family & the community.

Thanks to Twitter, I stumbled upon this website & now I will be able to liven and improve my whole presentation with very little time or effort. I also decided to use Haiku Deck, instead of Prezi to really bring a personal touch to my presentation. Check out my Class of 2018 Freshman Orientation Haiku Deck here.

Each family will get a packet with my School Counseling brochure, which outlines the services I provide, so I will only briefly touch on that information from a preventative counseling standpoint. Families will also receive these materials:
The majority of my time will be spent on sharing "The 10 Keys to Happier Living" and how integrating them into both the student and the parents life can make the transition a little smoother and help them experience success all four years of high school and beyond.

Twitter Survey

As I prepared for tonight's event I did a brief survey on Twitter, asking other school counselors in my PLN, "What's the #1 thing you tell parents at your freshman orientation event?" Here's what my Tweeps had to say:

Please share your Freshman Orientation Tips for success below in the Comments section... 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The FAFSA & Homeless Youth

Like many school counselors out there, I wear many hats. One of which is serving as the district "McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison." I take this duty pretty seriously & work hard to educate administration, faculty, staff etc. about the reality of complying with the law & caring for our students that qualify for services.

This year, for the first time, I have an overage of seniors that are in transitional housing & college bound. 

Throughout the last couple of years these students have been exposed to our mandatory career exploration, college planning & college funding lessons & all of them visited the office for help with their FAFSA's.

One thing I didn't anticipate, which prompted this post, was the follow up documentation to verify McKinney-Vento status.

One of my students caught me in the hall this morning & told me his college needed more information about his McKinney-Vento status. The school had sent him a form that he had to complete & return with supporting documentation from me.

I had no idea what to send so I logged into to our State information system & quickly printed his profile data, which noted his homeless & unaccompanied youth status, but I didn't think that would be enough. After a quick Google search I realized that most colleges had their own verification forms, I was just unlucky in that this particular college did not.

I quickly adapted the form to fit my needs & saved it to my Forms folder for future use. Check it out hereI am sharing a link to the form in case you get into the same jam & want something that looks more professional than a screen shot.

What do you use to verify homeless status for college bound students?

Please share your resources & wisdom in the comments.