1. How many years have you been a professional school counselor?
I have been a school counselor for 7 years, prior to my work as a counselor I was a 2nd-grade teacher for 3 years and a 1st-grade teacher for 8 years. My experience working as a teacher helped me make the transition to a counselor. I also changed schools when I became a counselor. It was a new experience across the board: a new area of education, a new school, and new faculty and teachers to learn about.
2. Describe your specific role(s) as a professional school counselor.
Currently, I work as one of two school counselors at Coulson Tough Elementary. I am in charge of working with Kindergarten to 3rd grade, the other counselors handle 4th to 6th grade. I counsel students individually, visit classrooms once a month to deliver counseling-based lessons to students. I also have smaller administration like duties: lunch monitoring, before and after school pick up, etc. We have several programs to encourage student health and wellness: say no to drug campaigns, healthy choices, etc. I work with my co counselor to create and deliver these programs. I work with teachers and attend parent teacher conferences to identify specific student needs.
3. Describe your specific role(s) as a professional school counselor as they relate to consultation.
Consultation at the elementary level is a bit different than the high school level. We work closely with our students, teachers, and parents to identify problems as they arise. Typically, in our district and especially in this school, families are very active in their children’s education. They attend meetings, assemblies, and conferences regularly. We are very fortunate to have so much family support, which was not always the case at my previous school. I believe that it makes a difference in student performance.
4. Describe your specific role(s) as a professional school counselor as they relate to collaboration.
We collaborate with teachers and outside resources. But honestly, typically we don’t encounter extreme problematic cases that other districts may have. At my former school we had several cases – cases that I reported myself – to CPS. Students of mine would come to class and would show signs of severe neglect at times. I would consult and collaborate with administration about what to do. Eventually CPS would be called in. Here, at this school, typically cases for collaboration deal much more with typical benign elementary behavioral problems or learning disorders. We meet together as a group – principal, counselors, grade level teachers – and discuss issues at hand with students and family.
5. Describe your specific role(s) as a professional school counselor as they relate to referral. (You may ask if a referral list exists).
School Counselor Interview 3
We have a large list of outside agencies and tutors that can be referred to in relative cases. We (counselors) are careful to include the parents in on any issues that come up and also make sure that our principal and faculty are included. We refer out for grief counseling, in addition to the counseling we offer. We also refer out to agencies like Sylvan learning for additional tutoring needs for students. We also refer to educational testing to identify specific learning disabilities, etc when necessary.
6. What type of services does this school counseling program provide?
Describe the clientele in terms of demographics (SES, race, age, gender, etc.).
Typically the majority of our students are Caucasian but we also have a large population of students who have started to come to the school from Mexico City. Currently we offer several programs like our “girls group” that meets weekly during lunch periods. We have a rotating group of young girls to meet with the counselor to discuss issues related to making friends, “cliques” , school, and home life. We (Ms Mathis and the other counselor) offer individual counseling to students with parental approval. Since the school is Kindergarten to 6th grade, there is not as much academic counseling as the high school level.
7. What amount of time is spent delivering guidance lessons, providing individual student planning, delivering responsive services and managing system support?
I would say, no two days are ever the same! We try very hard to stick to a rigid schedule but you just never know when an issue will come up that demands immediate attention. Just this morning I had drop off duty (supervision of drop off kids before school) and a child had fallen off their bike, broken their arm. This isn’t exactly in the realm of counseling but you get the idea of what we have a hand in helping with! I would say responsive services and student planning play a large part of our job, maybe 15 hours a day? But again that varies week to week. Of course we have guidelines and goals we must make but we also have some freedom. Delivering guidance lessons in the classroom is a huge part of my week! I enjoy it because the students recognize me and feel more comfortable in trusting me and making a connection.
8. How are you compensated for work beyond contract hours?
(laughs – for awhile….) Oh, well if that would be the case I would be driving a much nicer car! But, I love my job and even though I don’t receive any extra compensation for after hours work I wouldn’t trade it for any other profession – even teaching again. I love this school and the supportive faculty and administration and parents. It makes my job so much easier and makes student progress possible.
9. What budget is available to purchase the necessary materials and supplies to implement the program? What are the funding sources for the program?
Well we are lucky. I will tell you. I’m not sure there has been many times I couldn’t find exactly the materials I needed at any given time. We do have funding from the PTO and School Counselor Interview 4 several parents who work as ‘boosters’ and give additional money towards supplies for the students.
10. What do you do for your own professional development?
That’s a great question, I am constantly going to conferences here in the area and we are lucky that our principal encourages us also. I just got back from a conference in Dallas for elementary school counselors.
11. Why Do You Feel You Are Ready to Be a Guidance Counselor?
Many people would answer a question like this with some information about their education and credentials, and while this is acceptable, it should be followed up with a bit of more personal information. You should take some time before your interview to reflect upon this so that you can provide your interviewer with an answer that is meaningful. For instance, you can provide some information about a particularly difficult case, whether you actively participated in the case or observed as part of your training. Similarly, you could provide information about a personal experience, particularly if you or one of your own children was helped by a guidance counselor in the past.
12. What Would You Do if a Student Reported He Was Abused by a Teacher?
Part of your role as a guidance counselor is ensuring proper relationships between students and teachers. As such, at some point during your career, you may be faced with a particularly difficult and personal issue. Be sure to take your time when answering such a question; a quick response indicates that you will not take the time to think the situation through. “I would first review the school’s policy for handling such issues” followed by your methods for implementing the policy is always the best answer.