National School Counselor’s Week was celebrated in February. As I reflect upon the events which mark this profession, I pause to think about the incredibly meaningful role that school counselors play in the lives of many young people across our country.
According to the American Counseling Association, “Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education and career goals.” Students today are dealing with more challenges than ever before, thus the school counselors work becomes even more important. A school counselor’s role is not simply to give advice or schedule classes; it is to support students in making responsible and empowering decisions at significant stages in their lives. School counselors work with students, their families, faculty, staff, and school leaders to ensure personal and academic success for their students. They play a lead role in advocacy, but also in building confidence and expectation for success in obtaining goals for college, for a successful career, for meaningful employment. In our own lives, we remember school counselors who gave us the “can do” attitude and path to success …. who encouraged us to reach high and make it happen.
Recently, the need for school counselors in elementary schools has been emphasized across New York State; laying the foundation for the work counselors do in middle and high schools. According to the US Department of Labor, school counseling jobs are expected to increase by 7% in New York State, and 12% nationally. The Department of Labor also establishes that, on average, counselors in New York have a higher salary than counselors in most other states. Given the increasing need for highly trained and skillful counselors in our K-12 schools, it is important that our newest counselors are well prepared for their role in transforming the lives of children and youth and in working in partnership with teachers and families to enhance success. It is imperative that new counselors are vested in the future needs of the workforce as 21st century careers and the respective areas of study have changed and will continue to evolve.
I am pleased that our faculty and school counseling students took time to celebrate National School Counseling week and to reflect on their commitment to serving all students, their role in the schools and partnerships in the community, and their knowledge of both theory and application to real world expectations for college and career readiness. The impact which school counselors graduating from Niagara University can make in the lives of young people knows no bounds.