Advisory Council meets again
October 13, 2016
The Big Spring School District’s Advisory Council, consisting of 20 members who started meeting in the Fall of 2013, recently came together once again to mull over the biggest issues facing Big Spring’s counseling department.
According to Jocelyn Kraus, guidance counselor at Big Spring High School, Advisory Council is “a group made up of the stakeholders of our counseling program. The stakeholders of a counseling program are students, parents, teachers, administrators, school board members, and other counselors who will then be able to help advise the counseling program.” Advisory Council meets twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring, at the District Office, and their most recent meeting was last Thursday, where they discussed more ideas for the counseling office to pursue. For example, if it is found that most students at the high school are having a hard-time with time management, the council with help to come up with fresh ways for the guidance counselors to teach students how to better use their time. Kraus said the council is very beneficial because “When you’re in the counseling profession, sometimes you just get your blinders on and don’t see what’s happening from that larger community view.”
The typical run down of an Advisory Council meeting is to first address the overall goals of the counseling department. After those are attended to, the goals of each individual school level are presented to the council. When that is said and done, the council members break into small groups with representation of the community and the schools themselves to talk about ideas or challenges that may need even more attention. Kraus said that the suggestions brought up at the meetings by whomever are great launching points for things that need to be and should be done around the schools.
Steve Hassinger, career services director at Central Penn College, is a member of the Advisory Council and said, “It’s a great way for the school counselors in the Big Spring District to talk with people from the community and find out what’s really going on out there. It’s one thing to be in the school and say this is what we think is needed, but it’s important to also get that feedback from people out in the community who are working and living and doing the things that they do.” In addition to benefiting the schools, Hassinger said the community sees many advantages from these meetings as well. “It’s important for the community to also know what’s going on in the schools because we’re all in this together, right?”
In addition to multiple community members, students such as 10th grader Alanna Appel attend these meetings to attest to what they see and hear on behalf of the students in the Big Spring School District. Appel joined advisory council in seventh grade after she was approached about it by her middle school guidance counselor. With hopes of becoming a school counselor herself in the years to come, Appel looks at these meetings as a great opportunity for her and her fellow pupils. “From a student’s point of view, you get the chance to see that the guidance counselors really do work hard, and they’re only looking out for our best interests. It gives you a real sense of gratitude towards them.”
Kraus summed it up best when she said, “All of these community people are now more engaged in the Big Spring School District…which gives our students more connection to the community,” and another meeting has already been scheduled for May of 2017.