Martin, Kimberly VSCA PhotoI attended the Virginia School Counselor Association (VSCA) on October 15, 2015 in Hampton, Virginia. The VSCA Conference was very informative, educational, and motivational that greatly added to my professional development. One of the main highlights of the conference was having the opportunity to listen to presenter Tara Brown. Ms. Brown was very inspirational and powerful as she provided an effective holistic approach while working with children. As a future school counselor, this gave me a different perspective of how to make effective connections with students and meet their emotional needs; there was an emphasis that building these relationships are more important than passing the Standards of Learning (SOLs). These human connections can drive the student’s emotional state, decisions, and actions that can either help or hinder student achievement. Throughout Ms. Brown’s presentation, she emphasized the importance of allowing the students to feel safe in school. By simply making the students feel safe, this can create a positive environment for learning and increase academics, behavior, and attendance. Another important highlight that was reinforced during this particular presentation is to remain enthusiastic everyday as a future school counselor, as enthusiasm is contagious. Ms. Brown also emphasized this in her presentation, as it truly can impact student academic performance. As I enter into the counseling field, I want the students to be excited about learning and achievement and give instill hope and encouragement to overcome barriers to education. Overall, the goal is to continue to close the student achievement gap, especially among males, and strive to implement effective strategies to meet diverse learning styles for all learners. I need to remember that males store and retrieve information differently than girls, and need to prepare and deliver lessons in the classroom, along with small and individual counseling sessions. By implementing all of these connective strategies for students, school counselors can discover the “root of the problem” and work with students to effectively problem solve strategies to find solutions.
Another conference highlight included collaboration among professional school counselors and formulating networking opportunities for my future career. Through the interaction in small groups, I was able to gain valuable information on how school counselors that work in various school settings implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) within their school counseling program and school system. This collaboration opportunity provide me with new insight into how PBIS could be integrated into my future profession. This evidence-based intervention works is effective for all students, but especially the ones who need additional individualized educational and behavioral support. Working with school counselors allowed me to see how they work with various stakeholders to implement the program and what strategies have been effective for them. Thus, I gained important tools for my “tool kit” to improve scholastic achievement for all students. In another counseling session, I was able to gain insight into how a school counselor integrated college and career readiness in the middle school setting. As this was a very informative session as well, the school counselor made learning about various college and careers that applied to their interests. She met with students during their lunch time called the College Café. I really liked this interactive approach, as I felt it provided a holistic approach to prepare students for their future educational and career goals. Even in middle school, emphasizing the importance for future planning and obtaining long and short term goals can help both students and parents prepare for their future after graduation. With interacting with other school counselors was both a highlight of the conference, it was also a benefit. Another benefit for me was having the opportunity to attend an elementary school counselor “show and tell workshop.” This workshop was for elementary school counselors to present various guidance lessons for grades K-7 that they implement into their curriculum. It was very effective for me because the lessons touched on the academic, social/emotional, and career domains of the ASCA National Model. As I aspire to be an elementary school counselor, this workshop provided me with an abundance of effective lessons and “tools” for all students that I will implement into my future counseling profession.