School counselors play an important role in helping students be successful in school, all the way from teaching positive behaviors and bullying prevention to helping out when a student may need additional emotional support. Career guidance is also a critical part of their role, as is assisting other staff in meeting the wide-ranging needs of students.
On Monday, May 16th, our school board approved administration’s request for a full-time counselor next year at each of our elementary schools, which are currently staffed at .50 FTE (full-time equivalent) per site. They also approved an additional .50 FTE of counseling at each middle school. This follows the addition of a full-time counselor at the high school last year. Our investment in school counselors is in alignment with goals A through D in our Strategic Framework, which are aimed at academic preparedness and career and college readiness.
By the board approving our most recent request, our counselor-to-student ratio will be dramatically reduced from 1:814 at the elementary level to 1:408. At the middle schools, the additional counselor reduces the ratio from 1:747 to 1:498, resulting in the K-8 ratios being just above the high school ratio of 1:308. This gives our district one of the lowest student-to-counselor ratios in the metro and statewide region, and it puts us below the national average of 1:471.
From kindergarten to graduation, we want to ensure students' social and emotional development is tended to as much as their academic development. Doing so makes it possible for them to develop academically and fulfill their potential. We strive to create healthy school cultures where all children feel cared for and experience a sense of belonging. School counselors are central to this whole-child approach that is both proactive and positive. School counselors also help to ensure our students are provided with excellent career guidance in a day and age when planning for their future has never been more dynamic.
The addition of school counselors could not have come at a better time. This past year, our curriculum department has been working with our school counselors to review and update their classroom curriculum, and we look forward to its implementation next year. Our middle and high school departments also have a new career planning tool to use with students and their families called Naviance, which is a robust online platform for academic planning and career exploration.
If you'd like to find out more about what a school counselor does, visit the American School Counselor Association's website.
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