Executive Director Message
By Stacy Eslick, Executive Director

I was invited to participate in a DPI statewide leadership cadre to increase the number of underrepresented students in gifted education programs through a $1.1 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education.  My role in the grant is to create a plan to share this information with school counselors across the state. If you have an interest in gifted education and would like to join a WSCA committee to work on this project please contact me at stacye@wscaweb.org
The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education grant will target services to high ability and high potential students from low-income families or who are learning English in primary grades in the Kenosha Unified, Racine Unified, and Milwaukee Public school districts. The three goals for the “Expanding Excellence” grant are to

  • build collaborative systems that include school and district staff members as well as students and their families to support achievement;
  • improve assessments to identify high ability and high potential students who would benefit from advanced services; and
  • increase the percentages of high ability and high potential students from economically disadvantaged families and English language learners who achieve at advanced levels.

Currently in Wisconsin, economically disadvantaged students and English language learners are underrepresented among those who achieve at the “advanced” level on state assessments. The “excellence gap” is 12 percentage points between students who were eligible for free or reduced-price meals who scored at the advanced level on the 2013‑14 state mathematics assessment and their peers who are not eligible for subsidized school meals. Similar gaps exist for almost every grade level, in nearly every subject, and for English language learners.
“Children and youth who have gifts and talents in the academic, artistic, leadership and other realms come from all segments of our society,” noted State Superintendent Tony Evers. “This grant will help us to better identify and develop high ability and high potential students in participating schools in our work on Agenda 2017: to promote excellence for all and prepare all students to graduate college and career ready.”

Assistant Board Chair Message

By Jennifer Betters-Bubon, WSCA Assistant Board Chair

As spring emerges so too does the idea of spring cleaning.  Now is an excellent time to revisit the goals you set earlier this year.  Perhaps your goals focused on parent outreach, improving college access for all students or cultivating a positive school climate.  Be sure to revisit and see how far you have come and report your successes!  As a board of directors, we are charged with reviewing our Ends policies on a yearly basis, which are as follows:
Conditions exist so the Wisconsin School Counselors will practice with the highest level of effectiveness.

  1. School counselors (active and pre‐service) will be knowledgeable about effective school counseling practices.
    1. School counselors are knowledgeable about the development, implementation and evaluation of comprehensive school counseling programs.
    2. School counselors are knowledgeable about current ethical and professional practices and their application.
    3. School counselors are knowledgeable about current trends in school counseling and education.
    4. School counselors are actively engaged in state and national initiatives that impact the school counseling profession.
      1. School counselors are knowledgeable about leadership and advocacy principles.
  2. Key Stakeholders (including but not limited to) school administrators, policy makers, and community members will understand the impact made by the school counselor implementing a comprehensive school counseling program. (http://www.wscaweb.org/Bylaws-Governing-Policies#.VvSjdFsrLC0)

Just as you review your program and personal goals, the Board of Directors review our Ends Policies each year to better guide the direction of our executive director and coordinators. As such, know that the WSCA board is to serve YOU as members.  Please get in touch with me (bettersj@uww.edu) or Board Chair, Kelly Curtis (curtiskj@hudson.k12.wi.us) should you wish to connect or talk further about the work of the board!

Graduate Student Message: Embracing the Thaw

Jessica Brown, Graduate Student Representative, UW-Superior

I never feel more like an introvert than when wading through wave after wave of enthusiastic, energetic, impossibly perky WSCA conference attendees.  Amidst all the excitement of gaining new knowledge and techniques at sectionals, I can’t help but give myself the break I know I need to process.  “I didn’t come here to network and socialize,” I find myself thinking.  Give me a few good speakers and a pile of handouts—so many handouts, more than I even know what to do with—and I’ll be perfectly content.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one eating lunch in an out-of-the-way, downstairs hallway, but sometimes I sure feel like I am.
At my elementary internship site, my supervisor often gives students feedback about how they’re interacting in the group by telling them about their talents and gifts before revealing their opportunities to grow.  “Your greatest strength is, in a way, your greatest weakness,” she tells them (in developmentally appropriate words, of course).  Working with her and attending WSCA has reminded me to never stop growing and reflecting on how far I’ve come and what I can do to keep improving, little by little.
The counseling internship, for many graduate students, is the course in which most of our skills are learned as we constantly stretch ourselves to meet new challenges.  As an intern I’ve felt the pressure of two conflicting desires: to get as much experience in every aspect of school counseling as possible by piling on tasks until there’s no room to breathe, and to be aware of my limitations and practice good self-care, as we are ethically bound and highly encouraged to do, even before the first full-time counseling position of our careers.
In negotiating between these two, I have learned that I can’t be the perfect counselor, with the exact solution to every problem, for every person, all the time.  No counselor, regardless of experience can make all his or her students’ problems disappear, nor should he or she expect to be able to.  I’ve also learned to approach my weaknesses by focusing on my strengths.  I am not the type of person who thrives by diving in head first, but I can immerse myself successfully if I start out step by step.  Some people take action quickly, while I prefer to stop and think before deciding what to do. 
We all have our styles, and it’s alright to be accepting of mine.  I’ve learned to never give myself advice I wouldn’t give to a student.  I would never tell an introverted child they weren’t good enough or needed to be more like “everyone else.”  But I would encourage that child to take small steps as they build comfort and competence in new skills.
Today, one week after WSCA’s Heat it Up, with the thermometer at a balmy 37 degrees and the sun high overhead, I laced up my ice skates and stumbled onto the rink.  The ice was bumpy and cracking, and so weak in spots that I kept breaking through, falling and staggering, wishing for more solid footing.  I even completely biffed it once or twice.  But I didn’t take off my skates and call it a day just then, with a stinging elbow and sore back and feet, even though I wanted to.  I got up and kept at it, in a style that I knew would work for me.  I went slowly, step by step, until I found a little stability, concentrating on the challenge at hand. 
While I don’t think I’ve ever completely “biffed it” as a counselor-in-training, it hasn’t been easy.  What can be easy, and comfortable, at this time of the school year or this far into an internship, is to settle for smooth ice. Maybe there is some resistance in you that could use a gentle thaw.  If so, I encourage you to play to your strengths.  Listen to your instincts and make the right choice for you as you choose to let a new challenge begin.

Recap: Day on the Hill 2016, Advocacy Subcommittee and ESSA
By Nate Rice, Government Relations Co-Coordinator
On the afternoon of Tuesday, February 18, following a lively, informative hour-long prep session at Monona Terrace, Wisconsin school counselors walked en masse to the Wisconsin Capitol to meet with legislators in an effort to promote our profession as part of WSCA’s annual Day on the Hill. School counselors spoke to their respective members of the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly and key staffers on a broad range of issues, including how comprehensive school counseling supports school safety, student achievement, career development through ACP, and personal/social success and how increased education funding supports school counselors, how standardized test administration negatively impacts counselor-student contact time, and how individual planning conferences promote relationships, relevance, and rigor.
Some additional highlights included an invitation to serve on a legislative mental health task force and opportunities to watch the Senate in action while it considered a bill to fund heroin treatment programs for students and families and debated whether local governments can issue photo identification cards to citizens who need them to access public services.
Once again this year, through participation in Day on the Hill, Wisconsin’s school counselors answered the call to be visionary leaders who impact the state agenda surrounding education and student success. We enthusiastically encourage you to do the same by participating in Day on the Hill 2017, on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, the only FREE pre-conference offered at the WSCA Conference! We are confident that with your participation we can surpass our goal of making the 2017 event the most widely-attended DOH ever!!

Advocacy Subcommittee Burgeons Beyond Belief
The Government Relations Committee is thrilled to announce a whopping 227 Wisconsin school counselors signed up to join the Advocacy Subcommittee at the 2016 WSCA Conference! This number far exceeds expectations and promises to be an amazing vehicle to promote our profession in the months and years to come.
The purpose of the subcommittee will be to provide WSCA with a rapid response network of school counselors to advocate on issues that directly affect the profession.
The process is simple, efficient and effective. Instead of meetings, a call to action goes out to your e-mail account. In it, you will be encouraged to connect with your elected official on a legislative issue directly impacting school counselors. You will be given bulleted talking points and a corresponding letter that you can personalize. Upon review, you will decide whether you would like to take direct action to make a difference.
The statewide network will be sorted by CESA and legislative district for targeted action, when  necessary. If you have not signed up yet, please do so now by simply sending your email address to Nate Rice, Government Relations Committee Co-Chair, at nrice@wi.rr.com. Your name will be added to a bcc e-mail list and you will be set to act!
Get in the game! Join the Advocacy Subcommittee today!

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and School Counselors
In December 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, which replaces the long-expired and controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Both NCLB and ESSA are monikers for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was originally signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 as a civil rights law and core component of his War on Poverty. The original bill provided federal funding to promote equitable educational opportunities for all students, in an attempt to close the achievement gap for low-income students.
Today, the newest, recently passed version of ESEA includes many school counseling provisions under Title IV, Part A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants). Each Title within the bill targets specific areas for which funds will be provided to enhance student achievement and success. The U.S. Congress authorized funding Title IX, Part A, up to 1.65 billion dollars per year. Unfortunately, President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal only requested $500 million for this block grant. Being the first year of the new law, it is vitally important that a strong precedent be set for funding Title IV, Part A at the highest possible level.
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA), along with over 50 other organizations, has created a Title IV coalition. The sole purpose of this group is to lobby for increased funding for ESSA Title IV, Part A. This broad-based coalition includes many education groups (including school superintendents, principals, school boards, ASCD, NEA and AFT) as well as community and health organizations invested in students’ well-being and healthy development. The coalition is circulating a national sign-on letter that will be sent to Appropriations Subcommittee leadership in the US House and Senate in mid to late March 2016.
The Wisconsin School Counselor Association has answered ASCA’s call and is now a signatory on the letter in support of full funding for Title IV, Part A of ESSA!
(Adapted from March 11, 2016 “News from ASCA” release by Amanda Fitzgerald, ASCA Public Policy Director)

Day on the Hill: A Participant’s Perspective
by Paula Haugle, Elmwood School Counselor and Mary Nilsestuen, Arcadia Middle School Counselor
Have you ever thought about participating in Day on the Hill?  Perhaps you are nervous about it, don’t know much about it, or don’t see the benefit.  Or maybe you have already participated and haven’t seen a reason to repeat it.  As a first year participant of Day on the Hill, I feel inspired and motivated to continue to participate and develop relationships with my legislators.
Day on the Hill is a fantastic opportunity to advocate for our profession, which in turn benefits our students.  The fact that it is tied in to the WSCA Pre Conference schedule is an added bonus, because we don’t have to plan yet another day out of the office.  The WSCA staff will arrange meeting times with your legislators and prep you with informative and inspirational messages and talking points before you go.
The energy of the Capitol is intoxicating.  This year the assembly and senate were in session and several groups were present to testify and participate in the hearings.  My assembly representative actually stepped off the floor to have a conversation with me.  It was a very meaningful conversation about college and career readiness, something the ACP process lends itself closely to.  I was excited to make this connection and look forward to the future possibilities for my program and my students.
One of the advantages of doing Day on the Hill more than once is the opportunity it gives us to educate our representatives about how we are implementing the programs they want and have voted to have in our schools.  I was fortunate to join Mary Nilsestuen and Ryan Schmitt from Arcadia for our meeting with our senator.  Mary knew the staffer by name and it was clear they had developed a relationship through the five years that Mary has participated in Day on the Hill. 
Prior to participating in Day on the Hill, I knew part of the reason was to advocate for our profession.  I didn’t realize how much it was about building relationships - something we as counselors value and are very good at.  I would encourage everyone to participate in this event in the future.  It’s not intimidating, it’s exhilarating!

Director Spotlight

Kelly Curtis, Board Chair

I’ve been a school counselor on and off since earning my Master’s Degree at UW Stout in 1992, and have experience K-12 in northwestern Wisconsin. In 2000, I started creating and marketing educational products with my company, Empowering Youth, Inc., and in 2008 I authored the book Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. Currently I am the elementary school counselor at EP Rock in Hudson and I have served on the WSCA Board during most of my years at Rock.
When I ran for election as the Elementary VP, I didn’t know the direction my leadership would go, nor the huge changes we would undertake as a Board. I’ve also served as WSCA President and Board Chair, and have spoken at ASCA Delegate Assembly to explain to other state leaders how our Board and Coordinator Team, with the seeds planted by several past presidents, made the shift to policy governance. This new structure positions us for exciting possibilities for WSCA in the future. I’ve grown exponentially as a professional during this time and I encourage others to get involved with WSCA leadership because of the excellent and varied opportunities it offers to those looking for the next step in their professional development.
My term ends this summer and as a WSCA member I will be able to simply enjoy the fruits of our collective efforts!  I also look forward to some travel with my husband and two kids, working with my therapy dog, Murphy, and participating in a summer Spanish immersion program in Peru with my college-aged daughter.

Staff Spotlight

Steve Schneider, Conference Co-Coordinator

I'm completing my 19th year as a school counselor.  The last 12 years have been at Sheboygan South High School.  In recent years, I've enjoyed being part of DPI's Academic Career Plan (ACP) Task Force.  Sheboygan South High School is a great place to work, as we have embraced the ACP process and have made progress in making it a school-wide effort "by all, for all." 
I also enjoy being one of WSCA's Conference Coordinators.  Helping plan this professional development opportunity for school counselors across the state is a labor of love and one way for me to give back to the profession.  Tracking what is trending in education and how those trends impact school counselors is energizing and keeps me fresh, even after 19 years!

Committee Updates & Upcoming Events

Graduate Student Update

Any graduate student interested in this position can email Katie Nechodom at nechodomk@gmail.com or Sara Rollin at slrollin@gmail.com for an application. The application deadline is March 25th. Any questions can also be directed to Katie or Sara. 

Public Relations

The WSCA Public Relations Committee would like to thank the 24 school counseling departments who submitted pictures for National School Counseling Week.  Hats off to Kristin and Ellen at Elkhorn Middle School for sending in a picture every day for ASCA's photo challenges as well.  If you were at the conference, you saw the slate of candidates, or maybe you placed a pin in our CESA map?  Many of you stopped by to get a WSCA stress ball, or WSCA puzzle, did you get a WSCA pen?  Thanks to those of you who joined a committee!  WSCA is stronger because of you!
The PR committee was seen on TV in the Madison and the Milwaukee media markets.  All of the award winners had press releases written and submitted to their local newspapers (save the Wisconsin State Journal).  This is the first year we've done this, so we'll get even better next year.  We'd love to have some more folks join our committee to help spread our awesome stories.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or how to get involved.  You don't have to travel for meetings, we'll connect virtually.  Thanks in advance,lisa.koenecke@gmail.com


Professional Development 


2016 Summer Academy- Cultural Competencies in Comprehensive School Counseling Programs
CESA 1 Conference Center – Pewaukee
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (includes lunch)
Session Details:   In this exploratory session, school counselors will consider the purpose behind engaging in culturally responsive practices within supports. We will explore concepts of self-awareness and implicit bias. We will also examine strategies for validating and affirming who students are as well as ways to respectfully build and bridge connections to students’ families and communities. Participants will be given time to reflect and consider ways to own and apply this work back in their schools.

Registration Fees:   
Early bird special until May 31st, 2016: WSCA Member $55; Non-member $65
  • WSCA Member: $65           
  • Non-Member: $75
  • Grad Student Member: $40
** One Graduate Credit will be offered through Viterbo University for $200.00
Course payment & registration are separate from the workshop registration.

Thank you to our host site CESA 1!

If you would like to learn about sponsorship opportunities for WSCA’s Summer Academy, please contact Aria Krieser, Professional Development Chair, at: krieseam@hudson.k12.wi.us

Publications Update

Please consider submitting! Check out this prezi for tips on how to write an article for this newsletter:

We want your submissions in the following areas:
  • Feature Articles:  There are monthly topics related to WSCA’s Ends Policies (upcoming topics to be covered include The Ethically Minded Professional School Counselor and Mental Health in Our Schools). Articles tend to be no more than 2 pages in length, 12 font double-spaced.
  • Tips for Best Practice: Anyone can submit for this section!  It should be no more than 500 words (roughly two pages, double-spaced) and offer practical ideas that can be implemented right away. Examples include an innovative small-group idea that worked well for your students or a great classroom management strategy that you’ve used during lessons.  Short and easy to use is the goal for this writing.   
Send questions/articles to tabithastelter@gmail.com and the Editorial Board will let you know when it will be used. Don’t be afraid, be published!

April 2016

Executive Director Message

Assistant Board Chair Message

Graduate Student Message: Embracing the Thaw

Committee Updates & Announcements

Be sure to join WSCA at:


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