My initial impression of the ASCA conference is that it was very well organized and the number of professional development sessions was impressive. Having attended many educational conferences in the past I was struck by the number of professionals that are truly happy in their professions. I am already planning to attend the 2015 conference in Phoenix!
Michele Obama's remarks inspired the audience by being recognized that what we do is rewarding for students. So many districts across the nation do not realize the impact school counselors can have on students. I hear stories of counselors having 1,000 to 1,500 students! There is no possible way one school counselor can serve the emotional, academic, and social needs of this number of students. Too many will fall through the cracks and one is too many! Personally, I had goose bumps just hearing the First Lady's remarks. I know in my heart that what I have been called to do does make a difference, but everyone needs affirmation that they are doing good work. By being recognized by our First Lady, the students across the United States will benefit from the media attention, because corporations, politicians, school districts, and the general public will recognize the impact of her initiative.
I just finished my first year as a school counselor, and through my graduate work I was introduced to the ASCA frameworks and therefore, began working to build a comprehensive school model. It will be another year or two to be fully implemented, and it keeps my focus always on the student and what is best for students. I use data to show me gaps in academic needs or emotional needs. Student surveys are powerful tools for educators to use in building programs that benefit the needs of the students.
Connecting with school counselors from across the United States has done several things for me personally. First, I feel very blessed to work in a district that does recognize the importance of school counselors and the work we do. I also enjoyed meeting the people in person that I have connected with through technology. I feel like I've made not just professional connections, but friendships as well. It is unfortunate that more districts to do not allow their school counselors to attend ASCA, as it is one of the most rewarding professional development conferences I've ever attended.