Saturday, November 9, 2013

Career Development Month: Advocate for your Program Month

Six years ago I began my career at a small school (350 students) in southwestern Illinois. One of the first things that stood out to me was almost none of the seniors, or other students, had any direction or plan for their future. As a result I created a comprehensive career development program with all of the free resources I could find to assist the seniors in discovering their calling and creating a solid career plan and developed an annual College & Career Day event. The purpose of the event is for CHS students to devote time to exploring their interests, assessing their strengths, and planning for their futures.

The following year I launched electronic student portfolios, but made them optional. Today those free electronic student portfolios are mandatory for all students and the foundation of my school counseling curriculum, as they support all 3 ASCA domains and provide parents with the opportunity to monitor their students academic growth, personal/social development and career development.

Today, College & Career Day is a staple at CHS, we host a keynote speaker and colleges, our career center & local employers set up information tables & share information, our students also work on their career portfolios and do testing. Currently, almost 100% of my seniors go into their senior year with a clear direction for their future, I do still have some that have a tough time deciding, or listen to the negativity from faculty members that don't believe in my vision-yes there are major obstacles.

A lot has changed for the better as a result of our comprehensive school counseling program and systematic career development program, the results don't lie. Almost 100% of our students graduate with college credit and almost 90% go on to college, trade school or enlist with the armed forces.

When the new IL School Report Cards were released recently I was disappointed that my school chose not to highlight our great and ever improving program. Here is how I chose to advocate for more exposure and support:

An email to my administration (including my superintendent)

"This article is exactly why I always highlight our Career Development program. We have been above the curve for 6 years & running and we didn't buy our program. I created it based on current job market trends and the needs of our students, and customize and update it each year with free, electronic resources from the state  and other sources.

I implemented electronic student portfolios 6 years ago for struggling seniors and made them mainstream 5 years ago. Last year they became mandatory for all students and are now the foundation of our school counseling curriculum.

Through the career development process students can better see the connection between the classroom and a career and begin to appreciate education more. The possibilities are endless.

We need to highlight our program on our school report card and continue to strengthen it with more teacher buy-in, participation from the grade school in career development efforts and create a systematic job shadowing program within our own community.

I am committed to growing & strengthening the program. How can you all help to make sure we stay above this curve and ensure success for all of our students?"


November is National Career Development Month, read the article above and create an opportunity to dialogue with your administration about the unique contribution school counselors bring to schools and why we must be given the opportunity to do what we do best for the sake of our schools, students, communities and the future of our nation.


  1. How can I learn more about the electronic student portfolios? My principal and I share your vision to incorporate all aspects of the ASCA model into our program.

    1. Hi Margie! Thanks for the inquiry. Are you in Illinois? If so, you can go to and look at the Administrator tab at the bottom of the page. Request access & go from there. Let me know if you have more questions, I would love to help.