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A School Counseling Blog
A modern school counselor offers comprehensive services in Academics, Social/Emotional Support, and College/Career Exploration. The purpose of this blog is to help you learn more about these topics and have a way to connect with the school counselor.
Remember, if you ever want to set up a time to talk to Amanda, you can request a meeting through THIS google form.
Upcoming Test DatesPosted by Amanda Sitron on 9/9/2021 1:15:00 PM
We are in full swing here at JGESA! I hope everyone is experiencing a great transition- I know staff, students and parents alike have a lot to look forward to with students back in school.
As we get into this school year, we will be offering targeted seminars to support students with the content that they struggle with. In order to get the best placements for students, we are utilizing our NWEA testing results to place them, amongst other factors. This testing will take place next week.
If you are interested in the testing calendar for the entire year, the dates are listed below:
As always, getting good sleep and eating a good meal are always great before any testing. If you would prefer your students not participate in MCA testing (MCA's are state mandated tests in Reading, Math and Science- we test all these subjects through our own assessments as well), you can fill out THIS opt-out form.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Gearing up for school!Posted by Amanda Sitron on 8/12/2021 9:00:00 AM
We are just a few shorts weeks away from the first day of school, and what an exciting time it is! There are some great innovations coming to our community with our addition of Flex Fridays and supportive seminar offerings. Advisors will be connecting soon to discuss what our school year will look like.
- If Seniors are interested in applying to colleges, now would be a good time to pull up the application information. Many colleges can be applied to through the Common App, and all Minnesota State Colleges and Universities can be applied to through their system.
- Juniors, check THIS out! Its the MACAC virtual college fair. Sign up starts September 8th, and you can learn from tons of potential post-secondary institutions from all over the world. Remember these schools can offer programs from certificates and licensure through 2 and 4 year degrees. There's something for everyone!
- If providing school lunches or school supplies will be a financial challenge this year, please reach out and we can come up with some solutions together as a team.
- Start modifying routines to more closely mimic the school day (think bedtimes and wake-up times). If you ease into it, it may alleviate some of the first week exhaustion your students may experience!
- We will be supporting students with seminars in reading, writing, math, and Project Based Learning this year. But also, have you seen THIS? AroundCloud tutors offers FREE virtual tutoring, and students can set up times to get support with their school subjects.
Remember, as a school counselor, I am here to support students with Academic, College/Career and Social/Emotional needs. Please feel free to connect with me via email, and I look forward to connecting with everyone soon!
PSEOPosted by Amanda Sitron on 2/12/2021
This is the time of year for students interested in PSEO to start taking action. PSEO stands for Post Secondary Educational Opportunities, and is a chance for students to earn credits at both the college and high school level, directly through the college.
As you can imagine, this is no ordinary undertaking. Students interested in this option must be dedicated, as they will be developing a college transcript that will follow them. However, the chance to earn college credit at zero cost to them is certainly enticing!
"Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) is a program that allows 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade students to earn both high school and college credit while still in high school, through enrollment in and successful completion of college nonsectarian courses at eligible participating postsecondary institutions. Most PSEO courses are offered on the campus of the postsecondary institution; some courses are offered online. Each participating college or university sets its own admissions requirements for enrollment into the PSEO courses. Eleventh and 12th-grade students may take PSEO courses on a full- or part-time basis; 10th graders are eligible to enroll in PSEO on a more limited basis (see note below). Students must meet the PSEO residency and eligibility requirements and abide by participation limits specified in Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.09. If a school district determines a pupil is not on track to graduate, she/he may continue to participate in PSEO on a term by term basis.
By March 1 of each year, or three weeks prior to the date a student registers for courses for the following school year (whichever is earlier), schools must provide PSEO information to all students in grades 8-11 and their families. To assist the district in planning, a student must inform the district by May 30 of each year of their intent to enroll in postsecondary courses during the following school year.
There is no charge to PSEO students for tuition, books or fees for items that are required to participate in a course; however, students may incur fees for equipment that becomes their property when the course or program is completed, textbooks that are not returned to the postsecondary institution according to their policies, or for tuition costs if they do not notify the district by May 30 and the district does not waive this date requirement.
Funds are available to help pay transportation expenses for qualifying students to participate in PSEO courses on college campuses. For more information on these funds, access the PSEO Mileage Reimbursement Program Instructions.
Enrolling in a PSEO course does not prohibit a student from participating in activities sponsored by the high school.
School districts must allow a PSEO student reasonable access to the high school building, computers and/or other technology resources during regular school hours to participate in PSEO courses, whether on-line or on campus.
Each year, districts must publish their grade-weighting policy on their website, including a list of courses for which students can earn weighted grades.
All courses taken through the PSEO program must meet graduation requirements. Districts must transcript credits earned in PSEO by a ratio prescribed in statute. Districts have the authority to decide which subject area and standards the PSEO course meets. If there is a dispute between the district and the student regarding the number of credits granted for a particular course, the student may appeal the board's decision to the commissioner. The commissioner's decision regarding the number of credits will be final.
Postsecondary institutions are required to allow PSEO students to enroll in online courses consistent with the institution’s policy regarding postsecondary student enrollment in online courses.
Tenth-grade students may initially enroll in one Career and Technical Education (CTE) PSEO course if they receive a reading proficiency score of “meets” or “exceeds” on the 8th grade MCA. If 10th graders taking a CTE PSEO course earn at least a grade C in that class, they may take additional postsecondary courses. If the student did not take the MCA in 8th-grade, another reading assessment accepted by the enrolling postsecondary institution can be substituted. For students with disabilities, there is an alternative option to demonstrate reading proficiency.
For current information about the PSEO program, visit the Minnesota Department of Education’s Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) webpage."
Digital CitizenshipPosted by Amanda Sitron on 1/13/2021
For the month of December, the focus of my lessons was Digital Citizenship. Because of the distance learning nature of our education right now, I thought I would share the slides that I went through with the students.
Students have grown up in the age of technology. However, its tough to assume that anyone, much less adolescents, have a firm grasp on the permanence or impact of what they put out on the internet. The consequences of decisions made through the use of the internet can be huge for future employment, colleges or relationships. Take this opportunity to discuss what apps, social media, and other technology that your family engages in. How can a personal "brand" be maintained, and how can the kindness we exhibit in person be perpetuated in a cyber setting?
Spread Kindness, Not COVIDPosted by Amanda Sitron on 11/25/2020
I have to give credit where credit is due, so "Thank You" to Chris who inspired this blog entry title. For the past two weeks I have been visiting advisories and we have been discussing gratitude. This was an extension of this month's theme on Kindness, but also timely with Thanksgiving coming up.
Did you know gratitude has been scientifically linked to better mental health? We discussed what gratitude is, why its important, and how its related to kindness. After that discussion, I had students share what they are grateful for. Here's what they came up with:
As we finish the month of November, its a final push for students to make entries into the Kindness Competition. Information was made available to students on the Bulletin Boad. Take a look, and take advantage of National Acts of Kindness Day this Friday, November 27th to submit some entries!
As we go back into distance learning, don't be shy to send me an email about any needs, whether it be struggling with mental health during COVID isolation, college and career planning, or looking for Academic support.
What does a school counselor do?Posted by Amanda Sitron on 11/5/2020
Skills RubricPosted by Amanda Sitron on 10/20/2020
Have you all heard of the JGESA Skills Rubric? Being fairly new here, it has been really exciting learning about this foundational assessment that is used to support our students. It measures so many of those non-cognitive "soft skills", that are indicators of their ability to find success in their goal setting, their relationships, navigating high school, and overall employability. This approach to student learning is growth is something that I believe to be very unique.
For the next two weeks I will be visiting all advisories to chat with students about the Skills Rubric, and the value in reflecting on their own skillset, developing goals, and working on them througout the year. This metacognitive approach is something that is well-supported by research to improve a student's learning and skill building.
Even more so, the skills rubric incorporates many facets of a students overall wellness, as portrayed by the Wellness Wheel. The Wellness Wheel depicts all the facets of a person's holistic health, and if you compare it to the Skills Rubric, you'll see quite a bit of crossover.
Soon, students will be doing a self-assessment on the Skills Rubric. What a fantasitic opportunity for them to identify their strengths and areas of growth, and to set goals based off of the results. Advisors will be supporting the growth of these skill areas by incorporating them into the modules in Headrush. As students delve into this, it might be a good conversation topic around the dinner table.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me: email@example.com.
College Knowledge Month and FAFSA KickoffPosted by Amanda Sitron on 9/30/2020
Tomorrow is the official start to "College Knowledge Month". During this month I will be visiting advisories and discussing career and college exploration, and will be available for support with college application questions (just send me an email!).
Tomorrow is also the first day the FAFSA opens up to Seniors and their families. By filling out the FAFSA, it gives students access to Loans, Scholarships, and Grants available through the colleges they intend to enroll in. See THIS website for step by step support through the application. Although colleges may have later deadlines for the application, some do give 1st come 1st served awards of financial aid.
Remember that there are many colleges that are test optional this year, especially due to COVID-related testing difficulties. Furthermore, many colleges waive application fees sometime during the month of October to celebrate College Knowledge Month.
Have fun exploring careers and educational pathways this month, and let me know if you have any questions!
Guidance CurriculumPosted by Amanda Sitron on 9/21/2020
Its a "thing" in the school counseling world that we are no longer referred to as guidance counselors, because we do so much more than guidance. Modern school counselors offer comprehensive programming in the areas of academics, college and career, and social/emotional areas. However, we do still provide guidance!
Within the next two weeks I will be attending all advisories to provide guidance curriculum about three things: A Virtual Calming Room Module in Headrush, the PSP (Postsecondary Plan) Module in Headrush, and a needs assessment.
I am really excited about the Virtual Calming Room module that I created in Headrush. Since we have students accessing their education from so many places, they don't necessarily always have access to their coping mechanisms that they may normally use. This module has videos, activities, and app suggestions that were chosen with the intention of being a way to take a break and invite calm into the day, if needed. Students are welcome to go into the Headrush Warehouse, and make this module actove for their own Headrush Dashboard. I encourage students to add their own resources that work well for them, and to discuss with their advisor what they could do to earn some Health Learning Targets, if they wanted to take a deeper dive with it.
The PSP Module is only for high schoolers. The purpose of this module is to explore potential careers after high school, and what type of education or training might be necessary to obtain employment in those careers. Every high schooler should have this as an active module in their Headrush. Parents- I encourage you to ask your student to show you what they are doing in this module!
Finally, students will be participating in a needs assessment. The goal of this assessment is to guide my work for the school year. Modern school counselors use data driven approaches to their work, in order to increase our effectiveness and provide the most relevant services. The needs assessment is a short google form, where students can indicate areas where they would like to learn more or receive more support in the academic/college and career/social emotional domains.
The year is off and running, and I look forward to connecting with the students this year through this guidance curriculum. As always, feel free to email me with any questions or concerns!
Back to School!Posted by Amanda Sitron on 9/9/2020
Hello JGESA Community!
Welcome to the Counselor’s Corner Blog. I am excited to have a new opportunity to connect with you all and provide you with resources, tools, and methods to find success during your time at JGESA and beyond.
It has been quite the summer! I have enjoyed water adventures with my family, going to the beach and river kayaking whenever possible. Both of my kids have summer birthdays, so that is also always a fun time for our family. Beyond that, the JGESA team and I have been preparing for what may come in these uncertain times and how that may impact the school year. However, I can say that it has been an opportunity to tap into the creative side of my career to try out and develop innovative approaches to school counseling. Whatever may come, I am privileged to serve the JGESA community for the upcoming school year, and have tons of ideas that I look forward to implementing.
Some news on the college and career front: Many colleges are going test optional, meaning that they will not require ACT/SAT scores to admit students. See THIS website for a fairly comprehensive listing. However, some course placements and private scholarships may still be impacted by scores from these tests, so I would encourage you to contact your post-secondary options to get full details. As of now, JGESA is still planning on offering the ACT in October, but students can always sign up for a national test date at ACT.org. Keep your eyes open for more information coming soon.
If you had a chance to read my back to school letter, you’ll see some tips I’ve given for the school year. Academically, we may have to flit between various plans depending on what is necessary to keep our community healthy. As a parent and an educator, I know how difficult it is to maintain a sense of normalcy, when we can’t expect anything to be “normal”. That being said, I encourage everyone to take a look at the three plans that we may utilize during the school year, and plan how your family will best try to stick to a routine that allows for as much normalcy as possible. Think about how your child will attend to their academic needs such as checking in with their advisories, meeting with advisors, and working on their projects. How will they get the physical activity that is built into their school day? And of equal importance, how will your student get breaks from the screen time that is increased during distance and hybrid learning options? Attendance is a basic building block for a successful academic experience, and that was evident in the spring successes we saw from students who regularly checked in and met with advisors.
Please refer to my back to school letter for some mental health resources. Do not hesitate to reach out to an advisor or myself if mental health is beginning or continuing to be a struggle. Also, consider proactively incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Mindfulness has been a hot topic of study, and many researchers are finding that it can reduce depression and anxiety, and increase cognitive functioning. Headrush has a virtual calming room module available for students to access as they would like. HERE you can also find a free series of webinars hosted by Change to Chill. Take a look and see if any of the topics would be of value to you and your family!
Until next time, take care and be well.