WSCA Executive Director Message

By Stacy Eslick, WSCA Executive Director

Strengthen Your Leadership, Volunteer for WSCA!
It has been a busy few months at WSCA, although it is hard to believe that summer is almost over and we will soon be back in our schools. I hope you had the opportunity to rest, relax and reenergize.

A few weeks ago I had the honor of spending three days with amazing counselor leaders at the annual WSCA Summer Leadership Institute in beautiful Oshkosh.  The WSCA Board of Directors spent time working on improving our policy governance model and visioning big picture ideas for our members.  Our Summer Academy had School Counselors from across the state learning and sharing about Academic & Career Plans and how to effectively use data/WSCPAR.   The WSCA Coordinator leadership team spent time collaborating and planning for this upcoming year on how to support WSCA members.

As I lead the WSCA Coordinator team, it is helpful to reflect on WSCA’s success over the past 50 years.  No doubt that we would not be where we are today without School Counselors that have been willing to volunteer on committees and leadership teams.  As we move forward, we need you to grow and strengthen WSCA!  One area we want to improve is increasing geographic diversity systematically on WSCA committees to ensure Counselor voices are heard from across the state.

Are you wondering what other reasons there are to consider volunteering for WSCA? DPI finalized pilot Educator Effectiveness standards for School Counselors that will be loaded in Teachscape for the 2015-16 school year ( ).  By volunteering on a WSCA committee you will have the opportunity to meet core competencies at the distinguished and exemplary levels in the area of Professionalism and Advocacy.

Please accept this open invitation to join a WSCA committee.  If you are interested in volunteering, look at the WSCA website to learn more about the committees ( ) and email me your area of interest so we can get you connected.

We are looking forward to working with you.


Stacy Eslick

Topic of the Month:  Cultural Competence and Education

What Role Do We Play in Keeping the Peace?
By Tabitha Stelter, Publications Coordinator

This past year I began my employment in a district with a more diverse student population than my previous building.  Only 30 minutes away, I was now introduced to a Native American culture that most people in Wisconsin assume a thing or two about from commercials that advertise gaming or bingo.  My lack of knowledge about the Ho-Chunk people and the many issues our country has seen over the past year regarding race relations pushed me to analyze my competencies in the realm of multiculturalism.
It has been about a decade since that Multicultural Counseling class at Marquette University with Dr. Lisa Edwards and the book from that course is a little dusty to say the least.  So I did what any master-level educated American would do and “googled” multicultural competence in schools.  After refining my search a little, I came upon a few gems of information that I would love to sum up with you.  In the end, we’ll take a look at some all too common scenarios and see how competent (and compassionate) you would rate yourself as an educator.  Also, if you haven’t read Gregg Curtis’s “DPI Corner” from this same issue, I urge you to do so and also to visit some of the links that he has included. 
The best read in my search was concise (always the best) with very practical suggestions.  Jose Vlison’s discussion through Edutopia on March 9th of this year empowers educators to become culturally competent despite the increased workload we are expected to tackle. Here are his three simple, yet powerful suggestions with my rationale included.
#1 Build a teacher.
As a counselor, the best way that I know to build a relationship is to show students that I care. I do this best by listening to students’ concerns and stories and recalling that information in later conversations.  Take the time to truly listen to your students. You might be the only one who hears them all day.  You also convey respect no matter what your cultural background is in relation to your students when you listen from and with your heart.
Having conversations as an adult with students can be tricky enough, but when you add that element of distrust that they may have based on their family history it will feel impossible.  Stay the course! Be honest and humble with your lack of knowledge surrounding their ancestry.  When they’ve taken that leap and decided to trust you it is an amazing feeling. Just know that students need stability and structure, and they get that with a caring educator who has also set boundaries for the relationships they have with students.  You walk a fine line by being their confidant and the friend that they trust with every tidbit of information. You must remember that in the end there are ethical standards to adhere to and you are the professional.
#2 Create a fair and equitable classroom environment
In reading an article from the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice website written by Mark A. King, Anthony Sims, and David Osher (1997) the notion that biases from minority groups exists is due to historical cultural experiences. The students we work with may have mistrust that has been passed down to them from members of their family who have experienced the discrimination first-hand.  Since they come into the school with the dominant culture’s values thrust upon them they will benefit from having the classroom teacher who is conscientious of these dynamics and works hard to demonstrate equality.
My advice is to try classroom meetings weekly, if not daily to create equity.  These meetings will allow equal respect and opportunity for all students. Class agreements, created by students with the teacher’s guidance need to be established before the meetings begin to create the trust and respect needed to facilitate meaningful discussions, especially around topics like prejudice.
Another way to convey equality is to discuss, post and review expectations for behavior and academics.  When students don’t know the rules and break them, they will feel that you are targeting them regardless of their ethnicity or yours. Be transparent with your expectations and the consequences so there is little room to argue.
#3 Ask questions to disarm
The notion of trust that is established with agreed upon rules and values will assist in the discussions where a humbled teacher asks a student about his/her culture.  I can’t stress this enough.  Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that everyone else is thinking.  If the expectation set by the group is that each person strives to learn about others without judgement then the teacher should lead by example.  Asking students what their interests are, what “home” means to them, who they have to look up to or look out for are all simple questions that can be asked in the first few minutes of a lesson or classroom meeting.  As Vilson states, educators can be “the beacon of hope or the agents of oppression” for students. Spend that time getting to know students up front so that you’re in a position to offer help later on when you recognize the need.
I wonder how many school counselors have found themselves in the following situations? 
  1. When participating in a child study team for a student whose behavior is impeding his growth in math, have you wondered if the teacher is inclusive in their method of delivery to the culture of that particular student?  Does he know that the student benefits most from real-life examples that reference the student’s interests?
  2. Do you help staff recognize cultural barriers to parent involvement and work to provide suggestions for overcoming those obstacles?
  3. When you hear a staff member make a negative comment about a student's behavior based on their heritage, are you brave enough to point out their prejudice? (Example: "Her parents aren't going to work with her at home since they don't value education".)
  4. Are the many cultures of students and staff in your building equally recognized throughout the lessons you deliver?
  5. Do you encourage and educate staff on all of the cultures of students and staff to ensure they are displayed in the artwork and music programs throughout your building?
  6. When a discipline situation involving prejudice occurs, do you work with administration to ensure delivery of cultural education for those students to promote acceptance?
  7. Is the delivery of your lessons geared to all cultural learning? (Do you incorporate stories from oral tradition to help Native American students feel comfortable, for example)
In our unique positions as educators, but not classroom teachers and decision-influencers, but not adminstration I feel that we are the most qualified advocate for students. If injustice occurs, we are the adult who needs to take the stand against it.  If you feel that you aren’t knowledgeable enough about the students you should be protecting, become informed. Take that college course offered through your neighboring university about the culture in your school you know the least about.  If you feel too timid to tell a colleague to stop making assumptions about a student group based on their race/ethnicity gain some confidence.  Practice the assertiveness training that you’ve taught to students over the years.  I know which pieces I need to work on now that I have written this you know what work you need to do?
Empowering Educators through Cultural Competence, March 2015 by Jose Vilson
How is Cultural Competency Integrated in Education?, August 1997 by Mark A. King, Anthony Sims, and David Osher

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DPI Corner:  "Making Connections:  Cultural Competence, Evaluation, Relationships, and Professionalism"

By Gregg Curtis; DPI School Counseling Consultant

The school counselor evaluation tool, created this summer by a subgroup of WSCA Governing Board members and myself, integrates five domains of the school counseling profession necessary to support students in their academic, social/emotional, and career development. Counselors’ knowledge and skills in the domains of Communication/Collaboration, Assessment, Program Planning/Management, Program Delivery, and Professionalism are addressed. Embedded within each domain are individual constructs, tasks, duties, or responsibilities vital to being an effective school counselor.

That said, implicit in many of these individual-based competencies is the ability to form authentic, trusting relationships with students and adults. In order to do that, counselors must be uniquely in touch with who they are as people; including their values, beliefs, and biases as well as the potential for finding blind spots they may not have been aware of. Given our specialized roles within the educational system and the many stakeholders with whom we come in contact, counselors bear an ethical obligation to continue to monitor and reflect upon their “humanness.”

Believe me, with all of the complexities and chaos that can come with being a school counselor, it is sometimes easy to forget about ourselves. However, when we are lucky enough to find some “me” time, spending a few minutes reminding ourselves of who we are, how we are, how we became who we are, and who we want to be can be an important ingredient in remaining effective.

With that in mind, I encourage you to take some time yet this summer and practice some self-reflection. Once you have reminded yourself of who you are (your identity), spend a little bit more time and harken back to that multi-cultural class you took as part of your preparation. Jog your memory as to how people develop their identities and re-evaluate how you can integrate your cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills into the relationships you will build or maintain in the upcoming school year. It is the culturally competent way, and it is the professional school counselor way.

Online resources for a cultural competence refresher:
Overviews of multiple models of racial and cultural identity development:[Compatibility%20Mode].pdf

Overviews of student development theory’s multiple aspects of identity development:

Specific overviews of racial identity development theories:

Specific overviews of ethnic identity development theories:

Tools for assessing cultural competence in counseling (free/public domain tools):

Simple checklist self-assessment of cultural competence (Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills):

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Board Member Spotlight

Brianne Mehlos, Director
My experience with the WSCA Governing Board of Directors began in graduate school at UW - Stout in 2008, when I had the opportunity to serve as a student representative and chairperson for the WSCA Graduate Student Sub-Committee. After I began working as an Elementary School Counselor in Somerset, WI, I rejoined the WSCA Board to serve as Elementary Vice President for 2009-2010. In 2012 I accepted a new position in Southeastern Wisconsin as a High School Counselor at Arrowhead Unified School District in Hartland, WI, and have been able to continue working with WSCA. The past seven years have been a great learning experience with WSCA.  It has been exciting to see how much the organization has evolved together with the collaboration of so many excellent counselors across the state.  I’m looking forward to the continued progress this year as we transition to Policy Governance and welcome our new Executive Director, Stacy Eslick!
Carrie King, Director
About six years ago, my day job transitioned after 15 years of high school counseling to working at Mt. Mary University in Milwaukee where I train and supervise part of the next generation of school counselors. While I spend much of my time teaching, supervising and mentoring, I'm still lucky enough to be working with school age children as part of a trauma sensitive school project that has been made possible by Title 2 funds and a Kubly Foundation grant. I am excited to begin my third year on the WSCA Board as the new board structure is fully realized. Up until now, I oversaw issues around school counselor ethics and research. With the changes made to how WSCA is governed, my role becomes one where I get to take a look at the bigger and more comprehensive picture of the school counseling profession in Wisconsin. The professional opportunities provided by my involvement in WSCA have been instrumental in my continued development as a school counselor. I encourage you to be involved and to influence and support the amazing work school counselors are doing.

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Upcoming Events & Announcements

Registration is now open for WSCA’s 2015 Fall Summit!

Join us in beautiful Turtle Lake at the CESA 11 Conference Center on Thursday, October 22, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
We have two exciting topics to choose from:

Option 1:

Creative Solution-Focused and Strength-Based Applications in School Settings
This workshop presented by Carol E. Buchholz Holland, Ph.D., NCC will provide professional school counselors and school counseling graduate students an overview of the Solution-Focused approach and its practical applications in K-12 schools.

Option 2:

WSCPAR Training and Work Session
Learn tips and suggestions about how to approach the process and how to submit your WSCPAR application. Bring your own building level data and start creating a WSCPAR!

Early bird special until Sept. 30, 2015:  WSCA Member $40; Non-member $50.

One Graduate Credit will be offered through Viterbo University for $110.00.  (Course payment & registration are separate from the workshop registration).

Click Here to Register Today!

Thank you to our co-sponsors ASVAB Career Exploration Program and CESA 11 Healthy Safe and Respectful Schools!
  Network with Statewide School Counselors Today!
The Wisconsin School Counselor Association is excited to announce the addition of "Wisconsin SCENE" to the American School Counselor Association discussion board,
ASCA SCENE, located at 
For directions on how to use Wisconsin Scene Click Here. We hope this new tool helps enhance and support the important work you do as a school counseling professional in Wisconsin.
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ASCA Ethical Standards Revision
ASCA is requesting feedback from State Counselor Associations on revisions and updates to the ASCA Ethical Standards.  WSCA is looking for a small group of school counselors from across the state to provide leadership on this project, which will begin in September.  If interested, please contact Stacy Eslick at before September 11th.

August 2015

WSCA Executive Director Message
By Stacy Eslick, WSCA Executive Director

Upcoming Events & Announcements