SOE News

National School Counseling Week, Feb. 1-5, 2010

National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), will be celebrated nationwide Feb. 1-5, 2010, to focus public attention on the contributions of professional school counselors in U.S. schools. Many school counselors will host special events at their schools to draw attention to the benefits of a comprehensive school counseling program.

The week serves to highlight the impact that counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. It also brings attention to the School of Education’s master’s program in School Counseling, whose graduates continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in meeting the needs of students in North Carolina and the United States.  

“National School Counseling Week provides an opportunity to recognize the hard work school counselors do in helping K-12 students thrive and pushing schools to maximize developmental opportunities,” said Patrick Akos, coordinator of the School Counseling program at the UNC School of Education.

Alumni and students of the UNC School Counseling program have received numerous recognitions for their outstanding leadership and impact on schools. This fall, Rebecca Atkins (M.Ed. ’03) of Millbrook Elementary School in Wake County was named North Carolina’s elementary school counselor of the year. Amy Singer (M.Ed. ’05) of South Graham Elementary School in the Alamance-Burlington School System was selected as one of North Carolina’s emerging leaders by the N.C. School Counselor Association.

Several current students garnered research awards this fall at the annual conference of the N.C. School Counselor Association: Barbie Green, Aniesha Jackson, Kerel Pinder, Luuly Thai and Elizabeth White. Another current student, Montez Thomas, received a scholarship from the state association this year.

”We strive to cultivate skilled counselors, but also passionate advocates and leaders,” said Akos. “I continue to be amazed by the work our students do in helping the most vulnerable students.”

The School Counseling M.Ed. program is a 14-month, 60-credit-hour program that focuses on strengths-based school counseling. In addition to Akos, two other full-time faculty members are associated with the program: John Galassi and Dana Griffin. 

The program has been ranked among the top programs nationally in the school counseling specialty area by U.S. News & World Report. The Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision named the UNC School Counseling program as the Outstanding Counselor Education Program in 2006.  

Graduates of school counseling programs become professional school counselors working in elementary, middle and high schools as well as in district supervisory positions and counselor education positions.

In schools, professional school counselors serve a multi-faceted role. According to the ASCA Web site, their role encompasses four areas foundation, delivery, management and accountability:

  • School counselors build a foundation by identifying a philosophy based on theory and research that recognizes the needs of all students. In concert with their school’s mission, they use this philosophy as a basis for developing and implementing a culturally relevant and comprehensive school counseling program.
  • The delivery of services includes: a curriculum to teach all students developmentally appropriate skills; prevention and intervention activities as needed; and individual student planning and guidance to establish personal goals, develop future plans, or address problems and developmental concerns.
  • To achieve effective management of the program, school counselors engage in professional development, consultation, supervision and collaboration with their colleagues.
  • School counselors demonstrate accountability for their programs by implementing data-driven, standards-based and research-supported programs, and engaging in continuous program evaluation.

ASCA is a worldwide, nonprofit organization based in Alexandria, Va. Founded in 1952, the association provides professional development, publications and other resources, research and advocacy to professional school counselors around the globe.