Each year, our 3 advisory councils prove to be one of my most favorite parts of our comprehensive school counseling program. It’s definitely easier to make excuses than like “Doesn’t my School Improvement Council or PTSA count as our advisory council, too?” NO! You want real input from real stakeholders who can help you actually make real improvements for your program. If I haven’t convinced you yet, here are 3 reasons I think you should start a school counseling advisory council.
1- People want to be a part of something that inspires change for the better.
I don’t know how others do it, but, in my department, we are very strategic about who we invite to be a part of our advisory council. We try to double dip people’s roles. For example: if there is a mom of a student, AND they work as a school counselor at our feeder middle school… BONUS POINTS! We want as many perspectives and voices in the room as possible while still keeping the crowd manageable. Some ideas for people you could probably think of off the top of your head– someone who… you think already contributes to your program, you want more representation from in your program, does not understand the role of a school counselor, has great ideas worth sharing out… the list goes on. We believe all of these people have unique contributions because they view our program from different perspectives. It is worth being vulnerable and putting yourself and your program out there to hear feedback for better or for worse. I know they have felt their suggestions heard as we have directly implemented some of them. Every person we invited accepted our invitation. Before each meeting, we send an email invite.
Specifically, these are some examples of people we have had on our high school advisory council committee over the past few years:
- a student from each grade level (uniquely picked for their background, school involvement, career center or Fine Arts Center interests… we want a diverse representation of our student body)
- a few teachers from some different departments (ones who weren’t over committed to committees already- we chose a Special Ed teacher, a teacher of seniors, and a brand new teacher)
- our local two year college admissions representative
- an administrator (who voiced being new to truly working with school counselors)
- a parent from each grade level (one was a teacher at a feeder elementary school, one was a school counselor at a feeder middle school, one was a volunteer at the school, and one was simply a parent)
- our school counselor from our connecting career center (she’s also a school counselor there)
- our district Director of School Counseling
- a community member or business partner (we had a graduate who was out of college and now working for a non-profit in the community that works with teenagers)
- plus, of course, all of the school counselors in our department (that’s 7 of us!)
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