Executive Director Message
By: Stacy Eslick, WSCA Executive Director

Welcome back!  I hope you had the opportunity to rest, relax and recharge on your summer break.  Over the summer, I was able to participate in some wonderful professional development opportunities which included new learning, refreshers and recycled materials with new acronyms! While sitting in the very cold hotel meeting rooms, I began to contemplate how we decide what to incorporate into our work.  Which initiatives will turn into the educational “this too shall pass” category?  I challenge you to become a leader in your school, asking tough questions while also being willing to jump in to do the hard work to put together a school community that benefits all of your students.

I had the opportunity to attend the PBIS Leadership Conference in Wisconsin Dells this summer.  Kent McIntosh, a national leader in PBIS from the University of Oregon delivered the following keynote:   “What Does It Take to Sustain PBIS? Lessons for Leaders Why does it seem so hard to sustain school initiatives? When the initial excitement dies down and champions move on, how do we keep systems like PBIS strong in our buildings? This keynote will provide the latest research findings and practical strategies to overcome common barriers to sustaining effective school initiatives.”

 Reflecting on the keynote and the critical importance of school counselors as instructional leaders, there are many key points that can be incorporated throughout the school system.  McIntosh shared the concept of braiding initiatives to increase sustainability.  How does all the work we do connect and overlap, rather than function as its own standalone program?  As School Counselors, this is our world; we look at the whole child.  Trying to focus on just one area of our model, academic, career or social emotional, would do our students an injustice as they are all interconnected.

As instructional leaders in our schools, we must also look at all the services provided in our buildings to provide the whole child/big picture perspective.  Consider utilizing the braided model in your work as a framework for these conversations.  Don’t forget that your comprehensive school counseling program should also be a key component with braiding.  For more information on program sustainability, check out www.pbis.org .  

https://www.pbis.org/.../Sustainability%20breakout%2070%20min%202016- 6-23h.pptx 


Assistant Board Chair Message: Refreshed and Rejuvenated! 
By Angela Goebel, WSCA Assistant Board Chair

Preparing for another school year can feel refreshing and rejuvenating.  Over the course of summer leave from school, we had our time to reflect on the previous school year.   We attended professional developments.  We researched and made plans for new activities.  We considered what we could do better for the 2016-2017 school year and now we are back in action supporting our students and their families.
 We are passionate about advocating for our students.  We are engaged in solution-focused strategies for students, parents, and teachers.  We are collaborating with outside agencies for the betterment of our students.  We are school counselors!
Our students and their families will need support in a variety of ways, and while we will be there for them, please keep in mind that students and their families are not the only ones who will need support and coping skills.  As the year presses on, and we are in full focus of supporting and advocating for our students and their needs, it is important for our own mental well-being that we keep ourselves in check. 
Ask yourself:  What do I or can I do to maintain positive mental well being for myself?  How can I stay refreshed and rejuvenated?  What resources can I access to support my own mental well-being?  By taking care of ourselves, we can continue to be passionate, engaged, and collaborative advocates for our students and their families.  We will be the catalyst for change and warriors of good for the 2016-2017 school year.  

Anxiety and Depression Needs of our Students
By Angela Goebel, WSCA Assistant Board Chair

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  It is a part of being human.  Stress has origins in survival --  heightened awareness that allows us to respond quickly to a threat.  It is a general feeling you get as a result of a lot of different kinds of problems and challenges. Stress can be helpful for individuals, however, stress left unchecked and unmanaged can become anxiety.   When anxiety leads to emotional and physical discomfort, which may create unhealthy lifestyle choices, a student may be struggling with an anxiety disorder. 
Approximately ten percent of our students are struggling with an anxiety disorder.  This can cause a strain on the students academically and socially.  As school counselors, we can support and educate our students in relation to anxiety. First, as school counselors, we need to educate ourselves on the spectrum of anxiety disorders.  Understanding the type of anxiety disorder a student may be challenged with will help discover coping skills and strategies that will support the student.  The spectrum of anxiety disorders may include generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
 So how do we support our students as we begin our new school year?  First, we need to keep in mind that we can not control everything outside of ourselves, however, we can control how we respond to it. 
 To start simply, we can create a space for our students where they feel safe and comfortable.  They can trust that they are able to talk openly about their challenges and worries without judgment. We offer up tools and strategies that provide our students the opportunity to discover for that which can heal. Work together to create a list of positive stress management  and coping strategies. 
The following is a list of ideas through discussions with students over the years that have been on the list of positive stress management and coping strategies. As we support our students this year, seek out strategies and tools that may help.  Think outside your box and discover what will heal a student most.  

  • Take a time-out Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
  • Limit caffeine which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
  • Take deep breaths Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Count to 10 slowly Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Do your best Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
  • Welcome humor A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
  • Talk to someone Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Share your concern with your parent/guardian, teacher, school counselor.  Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.

Helpful Tips/Resources:
SAM App SAM is an application to help you understand and manage anxiety.

Want more ideas on how to support anxious students? Attend the Fall Summit!

Friday, October 21st, 2016 in West Salem, WI. Interventions to assist students who may display suicidal behavior and/or non-suicidal self-injury, often linked to anxiety and depression, will be presented by Jennifer Muehlenkamp, a national expert on these topics.   Click here for more info

Using Wellness to Combat School Stress: A Tool For Everyone
By Dr. Helena Rindone, Assistant Professor of Counseling and School Psychology Department, UW-River Falls

​“Back to school” is a stressful and anxious time for students, teachers, administrators, staff, and parents alike. Schools take considerable efforts to provide programming that aids in smooth beginnings and transitions. Students beginning upper grades are faced with significant changes in their scheduling, school environments, and class sizes and thus are susceptible to personal and academic issues if that navigation is not successful.  Additionally, burnout for educators is a significant issue to constantly be dealt with as the ever-changing socio-political-economical changes in our state create higher caseloads, institutional barriers for program implementation, and higher demands for work output efficiency. All of these factors cause high levels of stress that, if left unmediated, can cause an array of mental health strains in both students and staff: depression, anxiety, substance use, risky behaviors, etc. The reality is that these issues do not happen in isolation at the beginning but occur all year long. However, the start of the new year is a great time to begin working at addressing these issues. If you’re wondering how to do this, utilizing wellness-based strategies is a perfect place to begin.
Myers and Sweeney (2000) define wellness as a way of life oriented toward optimal health and wellbeing, in which the body, mind, and spirit are integrated by the individual to live life more fully within the human and natural community. It is a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving one’s full potential. Wellness can help combat depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and self-injurious behaviors. Learning to maintain wellness and optimal mental health in life maximizes an individual’s potential to enjoy a positive quality of life, function well at school and home, and remain free of disabling psychological symptoms (Watson and Lemon, 2011).
Areas of wellness, as identified by Myers and Sweeney, include creative, coping, physical, essential, and social. These categories are comprised of sub-categories such as spirituality, gender/cultural identity, self-care, thinking, emotions, control, positive humor, nutrition, exercise, love, work, family, stress management, self-worth, and leisure. For further explanation, check out the Indivisible Self Wellness Model. This evidence-based model explains the comprehensive scope of an array of factors that influence a person’s overall wellness. Inherent in the wheel of wellness is the understanding that deficiency in one area can corrode many areas. Similarly, a change in one area can be a catalyst for change in many areas. All of the factors are significant for both students and staff and can impact a student’s ability to function academically and a staff member’s ability to function professionally.
Why wellness? Wellness-based programs in schools look beyond the “change the child” strategy and look to support long-lasting, effective, ecological changes that can be fully integrated into the school environment to support and enhance wellness (Doll, Zucker, & Brehm, 2004). Wellness programs provide intentional elements that build students’ and staffs’ collective developmental assets. They are deliberate programs that promote wellness and positive school climate (Scales, 2005).
Assessing the school climate is the first place to start: how does stress affect your campus, and what does your campus currently offer to combat stress? The next step is getting buy-in from your administration and school staff which may involve educating and training them on wellness tenants (as briefly addressed above). This may require you to do some reading beforehand. After identifying the stress-related issues, you can take a stance of wellness as your lens. Based on Myers’ research, all systemic issues and ills, including academic failures, substance use, self-esteem, friendship concerns, and bullying, are a result of a lack of overall wellness in individuals. Thus, your programmatic efforts will be to increase wellness and stress management coping in individuals in order to decrease the symptoms of the aforementioned ills. Those programs can look like a variety of things: stress groups, in-class psychoeducation, take-home resources, community partners for health and physical condition, physical activity incentives, and individual or group counseling.
One great benefit of wellness-based programs is that they have the potential to impact whole campuses, and the effects will last. You have the ability to tailor your interventions to the specific needs of your campus and be creative in your intervention planning. Starting at the beginning of the school year can impact the rest of your year positively. If you are interested in implementing wellness-based practices, the following links are very useful:

Staff Spotlight

Bobbie Johnson: Conference Coordinator – Sectionals

Thanks to the leadership and encouragement of the incredible team of counselor educators at UW – Oshkosh, my involvement with WSCA began on the Graduate Student Committee, and quickly turned into a board position as the Graduate Student Representative. Upon graduating in 2010, I joined the Conference Committee, serving on the sectional team and overseeing conference evaluations. In 2014, I began by current position as one of the Conference Coordinators, with my main focus being conference sectionals.

I am really looking forward to the year ahead and working with the many outstanding school counselors throughout Wisconsin to continue providing some of the best professional development in the nation for school counselors. In addition to taking on this role with WSCA, I will be starting my fourth year at Valley View Elementary School in the School District of Menomonee Falls, and my seventh year as a school counselor. I feel very fortunate to be involved with WSCA because with each year comes more professional development, networking, resources, and new friendships, all of which help me to continue growing so I can better serve my students. I look forward to seeing you at the WSCA Conference in February!

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Staff Spotlight

Amy Sylvester-Knudtson: Graduate Student Co-Coordinator

Hello Everyone!
My name is Amy Sylvester-Knudtson and I am excited to be one of the new co-coordinators for the Graduate Student Committee for WSCA this year! I am in my last year of my counseling program at UW-Whitewater and will be starting my year long internship in September! I earned my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Whitewater with a minor is Spanish.

I have always had a passion for working with children! I love watching them grow and learn and during my undergraduate career, I had the privilege of working at a camp that serves mainly minority children who amazed me with their resilience and curiosity for life. These students taught me so much about their lives and what they have experienced and through that process, I learned so much more about myself and where my passion areas lie. Through the experience I had as a Camp Counselor, I learned that I wanted a future career that focused on helping children; more specifically one that focused on helping children work through the many challenges that can be thrown their way. I want to help students be able to gain the tools they need to be successful in our society. My experience as a Camp Counselor is what led me to want to pursue a career in the School Counseling field and I am forever grateful to the many children who shared their stories and their lives with me to help me on this journey.

As a co-coordinator for WSCA, I hope to continue learning from others as well as helping other graduate students throughout their journey into the School Counseling field. This opportunity to be a coordinator for this amazing association seemed like a perfect opportunity for growth and leadership! I am looking forward to an amazing year as one of your Graduate Student Co-Coordinators!


Committee Updates & Upcoming Events

Professional Development 

2016 Fall Summit Information

Friday, October 21st, 2016 - 9:00a.m.-4:00p.m. (includes lunch)
CESA 4 Conference Center – West Salem, WI

Session Details: Mental Health in Schools: Jennifer Muehlenkamp is a national expert on suicidal behavior and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in youth.  Participants will learn best practices and interventions to support students with non-suicidal self-injury, depression and anxiety in the school environment.

One Graduate Credit will be offered through Viterbo University for $200.00.

Registration is now openhttp://www.wscaweb.org/2016-Fall-Summit#.V1BSu5ErKUk 

Membership Update

Don’t forget about our current membership promotion and earn a FREE t-shirt!

From now until September 30, 2016, WSCA will be offering a FREE School Counselor t-shirt to anyone that becomes a member or renews their membership! This is a great way to promote our roles as SCHOOL Counselors!! Besides receiving our awesome new t-shirt, by becoming a WSCA member or renewing your membership, you will also receive all of our member benefits including:
  • Reduced rates for all professional development opportunities (INCLUDING SUMMER ACADEMY AND OUR ANNUAL CONFERENCE!! -Just a reminder that the discount for the annual conference alone pays for the annual membership fee.)
  • Access to Counselink and WSCALink
  • Members Only online resources through www.wscaweb.org
  • Advocacy and legislative updates
  • Scholarships and professional recognition
Once you submit your membership application, please keep your eye on your email for a message from our Membership Coordinator, Erika Spear! She will contact you directly regarding your t-shirt!
Please contact Erika Spear (wscamembershipchair@gmail.com) if you have any questions regarding our current membership promotion!

Professional Recognition and Scholarship Update

The Professional Recognition and Scholarship Committee is excited to announce a new Professional Recognition Award! This year, we have added a School Counseling Team Award for a team of school counselors who go above and beyond for their students. Additionally, we are excited to announce our continued scholarship sponsorships with  Educators Credit Union, Career Cruising, and Method Test Prep. Be on the look out for our scholarship and professional recognition applications to open up. If you are interested in joining the Professional Recognition and Scholarship committee, please contact Katie Nechodom, Professional Recognition and Scholarship Coordinator, at nechodomk@gmail.com
High School and Graduate School Scholarship applications are due November 1, 2016. Professional Recognition applications are due December 1, 2016. These applications are now available on WSCA’s website, with a direct link to the applications on the WSCA home page.
The process for selecting WSCA School Counselor of the Year has adjusted this year. Nominees and applicants will apply through the WSCA website. The WSCA School Counselor of the Year will then proceed to the American School Counselor of the Year through the ASCA website. The deadline is to nominate or apply is December 1, 2016.
Individuals can nominate others or even self-nominate. We encourage applicants to start the nomination process early because the WSCA School Counselor of the Year will be able to apply for the ASCA School Counselor of the Year, which a very extensive process. If you have any questions, please contact Katie Nechodom, Professional Recognition and Scholarship Coordinator at nechodomk@gmail.com
High School App Link - http://www.wscaweb.org/index.php?module=cms&page=237#.V492NrgrKUl
Graduate School App Link - http://www.wscaweb.org/index.php?module=cms&page=236#.V492R7grKUl
Professional Recognition Nomination App link - http://www.wscaweb.org/index.php?module=cms&page=238#.V59gbLgrKUm​

Publications Update

October WSCAlink: WSCPAR Questions Answered Deadline September 10
November WSCAlink: ACP with All Staff Buy-In & Support Deadline October 10
December WSCAlink: The Use of Social Media for Professional Development  Deadline November 10

In the meantime, 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!

Graduate Student Update

WSCA seeks graduate students to present their scholarly work at the WSCA Conference! Any original work- class projects, curriculum, research, compilations, are all examples of great poster presentation topics! Click Here for more information about how EASY it is to submit a poster proposal. You can receive volunteering credit for presenting a poster for one hour. It's also a great step in finding a school counseling position! Questions? Contact our Graduate Student Coordinators

Conference Update

WSCA Conference 2017

Feb. 21-23

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!!!!  The Wisconsin School Counselor Association and its members have done such a good job of educating key stakeholders about the positive impact that school counselors can have on students, that those same stakeholders are now calling on school counselors to be leaders in education across the state!!!!
  • Building principals are recognizing that in order for school climate to respond to PBIS initiatives, it is imperative that they have strong school counselors heavily involved in the development, delivery, and management of those interventions.
  • After hearing testimony from school counselors, state legislators have recognized the importance of career development in the PK-12 system, going so far as to mandate Academic and Career Planning for all 6-12 grade students starting in the fall of 2017.
  • Superintendents are beginning to ask school counselors to lead the ACP process in their districts, acknowledging that school counselors are the only educators specifically educated and trained in Career Counseling.
  • Business leaders in communities across the state are seeking to form strong working relationships with school counselors in order to be better informed of the opportunities that exist for their companies to be involved in the K-12 educational process.
  • Parents are becoming more and more aware of the many educational options beyond the K-12 system, and are asking school counselors to help them and their children navigate through all the options in order to make the most informed decisions for their children.
Even at the national level it is apparent that more and more people are recognizing that school counselors are a significant part of a quality PK-12 educational system.
  • At the federal level, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA--which replaced No Child Left Behind, NCLB) has new language that expressly names school counselors in several areas (which NCLB did not).  This is an acknowledgement that school counselors are being called upon to be a significant part of helping students succeed.
  • First Lady Michelle O’bama has called upon school counselors to be a major part of her Reach Higher Initiative.  To further express the importance of school counselors, the President and First Lady have hosted the School Counselor of the Year event at the White House.
So, you get the picture.  We have been very, very successful in convincing lots of people that school counselors are critical to student success.  And having done such an effective job, all those people are now calling on our profession to be leaders in education.  This is a pivotal moment for school counselors.  We need to show evidence that we are not all talk and no game.  It’s time for us to ANSWER THE CALL!
The 2017 WSCA Conference will be focused on providing school counselors with tools, ideas, and resources to most effectively Answer the Call.  Check out the keynote speakers we have lined up for you:
·         Keynotes - http://www.wscaweb.org/2017-Keynotes#.V499uLiANBc

Make sure you put the WSCA Conference on your calendar right away, and get the dates cleared with your administrators.  February 21-23, 2017.

We know there are so many terrific things being done by school counselors all across the state.  We’re calling on you to share your expertise with your colleagues.  We need quality sectionals for elementary, middle, and high school levels.
Just click here to get to the WSCA Sectional Proposal page:  http://goo.gl/0YkKrc

Sectional proposals are due by November 11th.  Please consider adding your ideas and energy to the conference by doing a sectional.  It’s what makes the WSCA conference so powerful!

September 2016