Counselor Corner: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Something super awesome happened today! I really didn't think this would happen until later on in my career, but it happened today. My colleague Liliana and I were chosen by our peers and announced as the School Counselor of the Year at the Sweetwater Union High School District all counselor meeting today!

My Sweetwater Union High School district school counselor colleagues and I, all 140+ of us, meet quarterly. Topics related to the ins and outs of our role as school counselors are usually discussed: graduation requirements, college going rates, mental health, academic interventions, sexual harassment, career services, and more. Most of the time, it's information overload but it's all information we need to know and impacts our daily work.

Today was our last meeting of the year. The last all counselor meeting of each year is always special because we recognize those who are retiring, acknowledge members of the community who have been champions for school counselors, and thank the executive board members of our union, the Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association (SCGA). The accolades and celebration is a great way to end the school year.

One of the awards given out each year is "School Counselor of the Year". This year it was ME! Yay! **Happy Dance**

Counselor of the Year can be nominated by any of the counselors in our school district and is ultimately chosen by our Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association. The nomination written was very kind and acknowledges the work Liliana and I have done for all counselors in our school district.

Here is the video of the presentation of Liliana and I at our all counselor meeting - excuse my cackling, nervous laughter...

It was such a humbling experience listening to my school principal and my fellow school counselors talk about how they see me and the work I do. I didn't realize my principal noticed all the work I do. Hearing her words made me tear up a few times. It was a great feeling to know others, especially my principal, appreciates and acknowledges my efforts.

My co-counselors also had such nice things to say. I know I drive them nuts with my google docs, classroom presentations, projects, and events that I ask them to support. They may grumble a bit, but always pull together as a team to best serve our students and community. We often say, "If it's good for the kids, then let's do it!" We never do anything in isolation, everything is done as a team. My team of counselors are really a family. We make sure to sit together and eat lunch EVERYDAY after we see students during their lunch. We make sure to hold each other accountable to get away from our respective offices to eat and take a "time out" and de-stressed in the midst of our busy day.

Many do not know but in addition to my daily duties as school counselor, Liliana and I advocate at the district level for the work of school counselors. Two years ago, our school district had left out school counselors in their Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). Basically, the LCAP is each and every school districts respective plan on how they are going to spend funding they receive from the state.

Liliana and I gathered a group of school counselors, met with and collaborated with district leadership, to have school counselors written into the SUHSD LCAP which resulted in lowering counselor caseload and hiring 18 new school counselors for the 2015-2016 school year. We have also revamped the Counselor Standards Committee which had not been active in over 4 years. As chairpersons of the Counselor Standards Commitee, we conduct monthly meetings with counselor representatives from all 32+ campuses in our school district. We are working together to standardize counseling practices to align to our school district's LCAP goals, as well as work along side our district mission statement and objectives.

I've written in previous posts how sometimes my work as a school counselor is overwhelming, stressful, and exhausting mentally and emotionally. When you put your heart into your work, your heart breaks when you students are broken, you become disappointed when students do not see the potential in themselves that you see, and you become frustrated when decisions are made that are not in the best interest of students. That is only one side of the work I do.

On the other end, I am encouraged by words of gratitude I receive from students and parents, energized by the successes of my students, blessed to know through the work I do I am sharing God's mercy, and motivated by my peers who I work with side by side to support and guide the students we serve.

Thank you to Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association for naming me as School Counselor of the Year! The recognition makes my heart happy and is God's way of telling to me keep up the good work!

Scroll to page 20 for the Sweetwater Union High School District Employees of the Year =)