FSCA Congratulates the 2017 Scholarship Winners
High School Student Application Question: How has my school counseling made a difference in my life?
Graduate Student Application Questions: (1) What do you plan to do as a school counselor to improve equity in education? (2) How are school counselors vital to schools? and (3) How do you plan to advocate for the school counseling profession?
High School Senior Winner: Aaron James Randolph
This year, my Senior year, I met my new counselor, Mr. Guity. He made an impression: dreads like a lion, strong handshake, and clearly about business. The past 13 years of my life, I have been brought up by a single mother. Mr. Guity has been an academic Counselor and similar to the men in my church, by his example, he models how to be respectful of my mom’s authority, yet accountable and independent.
The counselors at Dr. Phillips must support thousands of students. Amazingly, Mr. Guity is always accessible and approachable. He shares advice from his personal experiences, which makes him relatable. I like that he “keeps it 100”; he’s direct but empathetic and encouraging.
Students also depend on our counselors for recommendations. What I appreciate most about Mr. Guity is the genuine interest he has shown in my work as a visual artist and animator, and the effort he has put into supporting my career goals with his recommendations. Without scholarships, attending college will be a major sacrifice for me and my mother. Whatever success I do have with competing for scholarships will be attributable in part to his advocacy.
Mr. Guity has become like that coach in a prize fighter’s corner. He is gratified to see his students seize our moment and keep our “eyes on the prize”. His encouraging words and his confident demeanor make me feel more confident about my academic efforts now and about my future potential. Although I’m the student, he makes me feel important. Mr. Guity motivates me and helps me to see that I’m in control of my future because I’m in control of my choices now.
Someday, I hope to reciprocate and be that kind of mentor to someone who needs my help and guidance, too.
High School Senior Winner: Lillian Diaz
At the beginning of my senior year, I was pretty lost with what I was going to do with my life. I had not applied to any colleges and I was just working to get money. I really did not care about my grades and I was just about done with school at this point. That is until Mrs. Ferraiuolo started calling me into her office and started asking questions about what I was going to do.
I was really adamant about doing nothing, purely because I was lazy. I was stressed and I was just worried about when I was going to get my next paycheck. Mrs. Ferraiuolo really started talking to me about why I should go to college and why it was important. She also listened to me. I had not had someone listen to me for a long time. She listened to me about why I was stressed and why I had not done anything. I think I needed someone to listen to me and not talk to me like others have had in the past. Mrs. Ferraiuolo really talked to me and soon, she was actually motivating me to do something more.
After that conversation, I started applying to colleges and universities. I got into school I did not believe I could get into. I am now headed to attend the University of Central Florida and studying psychology. I have finally decided that I was to be in the FBI someday or somewhere in the criminal justice field. I started focusing more on school and my grades are finally where they need to be. Mrs. Ferraiuolo still calls me in every once in awhile to check in on me and sends me scholarship opportunities. I would not be where I am today without Mrs. Ferraiuolo and I am eternally grateful for that.
Graduate Student Winner: Ashley Lawrence, University of North Florida
The transformative power of an effective school counselor is something many of us have experienced and can understand on a personal level. If we were particularly fortunate, we had numerous exceptional school counselors that made an impact on our lives, inspiring us to reach our greatest potential. School counselors possess a passion for making a difference in the lives of students, motivating, supporting, inspiring, and cultivating a school climate that empowers students to succeed. For many students, like myself, a school counselor was the backbone of the school; a pillar of hope and a light in a dark world. To answer ‘how are school counselors vital to schools’, the answer is boundless. School counselors serve as a vital role in maximizing student success, in addressing students’ academic, personal, social, emotional, and career developmental needs.
In evaluating the school climate, the one person who designs, implements, evaluates, and enhances student outcomes through a comprehensive and systematic model is that of a school counselor. On a school’s educational team, school counselors are at the core for providing direct and indirect services focused on: academic achievement, college and career planning, social – emotional and personal development. School counselors maximize their skills and talents to be a champion, advocate and leader for all students. Through advocacy, leadership and collaboration, school counselors promote equity and access to educational experiences, and provide relevant prevention and intervention services as part of a comprehensive school counseling program. Unique to the education system, school counselors are guided by the ASCA National Model (2012) which is comprised of a foundation, delivery, management and accountability framework that embodies school counselors’ competencies and training to directly impact students. Often unrecognized, school counselors work diligently to provide educational opportunities for all students, including marginalized and underserved students. The role of a school counselor is vital in cultivating and fostering student achievement, and is one that should be valued in working all grade levels.
Adolescents face unique and diverse challenges, both personally and developmentally, that have an impact on academic achievement and their overall being. To help ensure students are prepared to become the next leaders and citizens of our community, school counselors provide support, guidance, and access to educational opportunities and advancement, supporting the whole child.
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) explains how the preliminary years of education sets the tone for developing knowledge, attitudes and the skills necessary for children to become healthy, competent and confident learners (Why Elementary, n.d.). Elementary school students are starting to develop life skills, character values and a decision-making model. The elementary school years are also a time where students are learning their academic and personal self-concept. These formidable years are paramount to students’ success and school counselors play an integral role in their overall development. Students in middle school are emerging with their self-identity, while still exploring a variety of interests. Middle school students also undergo rapid emotional, physical and mental changes that can affect their personal and academic wellbeing. School counselors implement a comprehensive and systematic school guidance curriculum that encompasses: classroom guidance, individual student planning, responsive services, and system supports. A multitude of supports through the school counseling program serve students: peer relationships, coping strategies, effective social skills, conflict resolution, diversity awareness, goal setting, leadership development, communication and problem solving skills. School counselors also include career awareness, exploration and planning, thus planting seeds of college and career readiness. For high school students, the final transition into adulthood can be a challenging time. ASCA describes the high school years full of growth, promise, excitement, frustration, disappointment and hope (Why Secondary, n.d.). These students are faced with an array of pressures that often involve risk-taking behaviors that could jeopardize their futures. School counselors aim to support high school students in the transition from school-to-work, postsecondary planning and career development, work-based learning and job shadowing opportunities. As with all grade levels, school counselors attend to the social-emotional, personal and academic needs of the students.
While school counselors are student-focused, a daily objective and goal is to collaborate and support teachers, parents, administrators and other stakeholders who aspire to see students thrive. School counselors are vital in enhancing student outcomes through schoolwide needs assessments, student data and results, academic support interventions, behavior management plans, and at-risk student identification and implementation of interventions. These initiatives directly affect teachers, parents, administrators and stakeholders, as school counselors encompass a multifaceted impact on students’ overall success and on the school climate. The value of a school counselor is infinite – one that expands the scope of support for students to succeed, thrive and flourish, not only in school, but also after they transition to the next grade, and for years to come. School counselors are paramount to the overall success of the school climate and bridging the achievement gap. Every day, school counselors transform students’ lives, by empowering, encouraging, inspiring, and enriching students to reach their fullest potential, not only academically, but also by creating boundless opportunities for students to thrive socially, emotionally and personally. For without the vitality of school counselors, some students may slip in the cracks, only to feel lost behind the veil of academia. We owe it to our students, their parents, the teachers, administrators, and to the community, to offer a champion and backbone that creates boundless opportunities. I can only hope that I’m given the opportunity to make an impact on students’ lives, as many school counselors have for me.