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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting Started as a K-12 Christian School Counselor! 3...2...1...GO!

A few weeks ago I accepted a position for a K-12 School Counselor at a (VERY small) Christian school in my area. With just over 100 students, I'd call this the dream job for sure! The staff are all very friendly and after just two weeks of knowing them I already feel like part of the family. I am the first "Counselor" the school has had, though there has been a "Guidance" person before me who only worked with students on college related items. She was clearly a well-loved individual and her absence will be missed by many at the school!

I am quickly noticing that there are VERY few Christian School Counselors out there! Hopefully the information that I will be posting will help others in the same position as me. If you are a counselor at a Christian School, and especially if you're at a K-12 school, PLEASE reach out to me so we can connect!. Being the first counselor means I get to design my ENTIRE counseling program from scratch! (This task should be considered absolutely dreadful and overwhelming, but I can't express how excited I am to have this opportunity!) Many of the parents, students, and teachers at the school have NEVER been at a school with a counselor. I can't assume that anyone at the school really knows what I will be doing, so I am trying my best to lay a strong foundation for my program.  

FOUNDATION: Coming from an ASCA background, I knew that the first and most important thing to do is to build the foundation of my program. I created my mission statement and school counseling beliefs statements (Biblically integrated, of course!). Because we are a Christian school, I added "Spiritual Development" to the "Academic, Social, and Career" domains. I am still giddy about being able to tell students about Jesus without having the fear of losing my job!! 

MANAGEMENT: I've got my yearly calendar ready to go and have been closely analyzing data from my students and previous years. I'm still working on scheduling meetings with the students, classroom lessons, and parent workshops. 

DELIVERY: Teachers, parents, and students will be informed about the methods that I will deliver the school counseling services. I have created a packet of information for each of the teachers about what to expect this year, met with many of the parents, and will be meeting with students to let them know how they can benefit from my services. I am planning to do at least one classroom lesson per month with each class, and have Lunch Bunches with students when possible. With the small size of the school, the classroom lessons are really more of a "small group" counseling to begin with, but I will still offer more specific groups once the school year gets underway.  I will also take advantage of the small school size, and meet regularly with EACH student at the school to check in. 

ACCOUNTABILITY: In order to keep my position year after year, I will no doubt have to prove that I am worth the investment! Each quarter, I plan to send out reports about what I have done at the school and about the impact that I have had. Information in this report will include the number of students met with individually and in groups, types of groups run, other programs run, school survey data, and more. 

I am just beginning with this program, and will be adding and changing as I go. Here's to a great school year!!

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