President's Message

By Kelly Curtis, WSCA President

As my first official “presidential” duty, I write to our WSCA members in the hopes that you are enjoying a fabulous Wisconsin summer!

For school counselors, summer is a time for rest and rejuvenation, but also professional development.  My summer is especially busy with all three, and I look forward to putting into practice all that I have learned and will learn at the ASCA conference, WSCA’s Summer Leadership Academy and the Wisconsin PBIS Network conference in August. 

The coming year will be busy for WSCA as well as we continue to focus on helping Wisconsin school counselors to be highly-qualified in their positions.  I am proud to lead an association that makes this a priority.

Topic of the Month:  Empowering Youth
Empowering Youth with Talent Development Initiatives in Wisconsin
Kelly Curtis, WSCA President
Author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things

I’ve always been a promoter of youth empowerment.  In fact, 2008 I even published a book about the value of youth service and viewing young people as resources in society.  But no time has it ever been more critical to focus on youth empowerment than in today’s economy.  Wisconsin school counselors are currently infused in two exciting developments:  Academic and Career Planning and the Department of Workforce Development talent development initiatives.

If you’ve followed WSCA’s involvement recently with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), you know the DWD recognizes the critical nature of the school counselor’s role in preparing young people for employment after graduation.  Even in Kindergarten, we help students to connect the skills they’ve already learned which will help to  make them employable 20 years later.

As the career landscape has changed, so have the requirements necessary to be a qualified employee.  And our continued partnership with the DWD will likely result in a greater focus on employers’ connections with schools, contributing at school, in the workplace and in educational opportunities for students.  We want our students to be well-prepared to fill existing needs for talent in the workplace.

The Academic and Career Planning (ACP) process which is already underway in Wisconsin, will empower young people to take charge of their post-secondary planning in a structured way early on.  Opportunities coming from the DWD will enhance these plans and help to make each student’s ACP relevant and effective in preparing him or her for post-secondary opportunities.
Our goal as school counselors has always been to get students to take ownership in their own post-graduation success.  These developments in Wisconsin truly help our efforts in serving students. Please watch for continued developments with both ACP and DWD.  Both offer exciting developments in the field of school counseling!

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Empowering Youth
Lisa Koenecke: WSCA Past President

At the middle level, some youth automatically think they are empowered to do and say anything they feel they want to.  Work-based learning opportunities aren't plentiful for those at the middle level.  I am reminded of Jamie Volmer's presentation on how "Schools cannot do it alone"  What do you have in your community?

I feel we as school counselors are THE most important educator to open these opportunities.  these conversations with students and families need to start when it is developmentally appropriate.  Please remember to think outside of the gender lines.  The world of STEM is trying to do this by offering more opportunities to girls.

As we talk about classes students can take to see if they're interested in the field, of course we use RAISEC and other data points.  How about volunteering options?  This is where I like to incorporate the community and empower youth to volunteer.  One thing we see in our community is that there aren't many volunteering opportunities for our students.  A goal that our school counseling department has is to develop these work-based learning opportunities for the middle level student.  We are going to start with our current parents, then the chamber, and then the mayor.

I grew up in a rural community, but I was able to realize that I wanted to work with youth at a young age by volunteering.  We know that empowering youth is an important rite of passage.  Let's use our skills and knowledge in offering work-based learning experiences and opportunities for ALL of our students.

DPI Corner

Course Options: A Brief Overview
Gregg Curtis, PhD; DPI School Counseling Consultant

Designed to increase students’ educational opportunities, 2013 Wisconsin Act 20, the 2013-15 biennial budget act, eliminated Part-Time Open Enrollment and, in its place, established a new program for students entitled “Course Options.” Course Options still provides a means for Wisconsin students to take courses offered by other Wisconsin school districts, but now also includes the opportunity for students to enroll in courses offered by charter schools, various institutions of higher education, and approved nonprofit organizations at no cost to the student.

Specifically, the new Course Options law allows a pupil enrolled in a public school district to take up to two courses at any time from a Wisconsin educational institution. Wisconsin educational institutions are defined under the Course Options statute as:

  • A public school in a nonresident school district;
  • the University of Wisconsin System;
  • a technical college;
  • nonprofit institutions of higher education;
  • a tribal college;
  • a charter school; and
  • a non-profit organization that has been approved by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). (DPI approval requires non-profit organizations to apply for approval and meet 20 assurances regarding the facilities, quality of the instruction, materials, and personnel licensure requirements.)
Meant to peacefully co-exist with another initiative that allows students flexibility in their education (Youth Options), the Course Options initiative is distinctly different. With its quick creation and rollout, a great number of questions have arisen regarding the use of this option for students; and the development of guidance for parents and districts continues to be a priority at DPI. The Course Options webpage contains the most up-to-date information for parents/students, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations; and new resources are being added. You can find the Course Options webpage here:
Two resources of particular note are the “Frequently Asked Questions” document
and the document that compares this new initiative and the Youth Options initiative
Both of these documents provide clarification and explanations for questions commonly posed by parents and/or educators.

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Board Member Spotlight

Carrie King, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, PSC:  Post-Secondary VP
After many years of reaping the benefits of WSCA membership, I felt it was time to give back to the organization by becoming a member of the board and sharing my energy, ideas, support of others and time. I am starting my second year on the WSCA Board as a representative of school counselor education programs in Wisconsin. My day job transitioned from 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. My involvement on the Board has given me the opportunity to work with creative school counselor leaders at all levels and to think on a state and national scope, developing goals and objectives with long-term impact to school counselors and the students they work with. Specific responsibilities of my role on the Board include ethics and research. I especially encourage school counseling master’s students to participate in the Graduate Student poster session at the conference in February. 
Brianne Mehlos: WSCA Secondary Vice President-Elect
I first learned about WSCA as a graduate student at UW-Stout. When other students talked about the great things they were learning on the WSCA graduate student sub-committee, it sounded like a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about the profession I was about to enter. Little did I know that it would begin one of the most fulfilling experiences of my professional career. From there I had the opportunity to join the WSCA Board and spent one year as a Graduate Student Representative and Chair of the student sub-committee. The people I met and knowledge I gained helped me to grow tremendously as a School Counselor. Several years later, while I was working for the School District of Somerset, I re-joined the Board as Elementary Vice President.  As a counselor new to the field, it was invaluable to learn from the many experienced counselors on the Board, Committees and our membership at the annual conference. Recently, I moved from the Elementary to High School level when I accepted a counseling position at the Arrowhead Union High School District. In my role there, I am leading and supporting several district initiatives including Academic and Career Planning, RtI and PBIS. I currently serve as the Secondary Vice President for the WSCA Board, and am looking forward to my fifth year with the association. It is exciting to be able to use the knowledge and skills I have gained from working with the board to collaborate with other counselors and to help create opportunities to enhance students’ academic, career and personal/social development.

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Upcoming Events & Announcements

Make plans to attend WSCA's 8th annual Summer Leadership Academy on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.  This year's academy will be hosted at the Memorial Student Center on the UW-Stout campus in Menomonie.  The focus is on Data Driven Counseling with the Accountability Report (formerly SPARC-W), SLOs, and RAMP.  Instruction and work time will be provided for your choice of focus.   Click Here to Register 

Where: Memorial Student Center, UW-Stout Campus-Menomonie, WI                                                  
302 10th Ave, Menomonie, WI 64751                                                                                
When:  Wednesday, August 6, 2014 from 9:00a.m.-4:00p.m (includes lunch)  

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Continue the learning at Fall Summit, generously sponsored and hosted at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.  The day of learning and work time will be Thursday, October 23, 2014.  Academic & Career Plans will be covered, in addition to Data Driven Counseling with the Accountability Report (formely SPARC-W)                                                                                                                     
Where:  North Central Technical College, Wausau, WI                                                                                               
1000 W. Campus Dr., Wausau, WI 54401                                                                                                                  
When: Thursday, October 23, 2014 from 9:00a.m.-4:00p.m. (includes lunch)

For more information, check or contact Paula Haugle at

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July 2014

President's Message
By Kelly Curtis

Upcoming Events & Announcements