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What Does a School Counselor Do?

PHOTO: School counselors in Arizona and around the nation are being recognized this week for the work they do with students. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Education.
PHOTO: School counselors in Arizona and around the nation are being recognized this week for the work they do with students. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Education.
February 4, 2015

PHOENIX - They are mentors, advocates and career counselors. In Arizona and across the country, the people who help students deal with issues ranging from bullying and cutting class to college and career choices are being honored this week.

Mindy Willard, president of the Arizona School Counselors Association, said National School Counseling Week shines a light on educators who each can work with hundreds of students each day "through visiting classrooms and doing lessons through small groups, individual counseling services, through response to services - just so many different ways that we impact the learning environment for students, ultimately trying to remove the barriers to their learning."

Willard said an average day for her at Sunset Ride Elementary School in Glendale can involve teaching lessons on anger management, violence prevention and study skills. She said much of her job is based on the needs of specific classes, grade levels and students.

Helping new students adjust is an ongoing priority, said Willard, since about 20 percent of the student population changes each year.

"That can be a challenge to the kids in transitioning to new schools, new environments," she said. "Also to a classroom, each time students come and go, it does alter the environment of the classroom."

School counselors still are dealing with staffing cutbacks from the Great Recession, Willard said. In Arizona, the student-to-counselor ratio is about 850-to-1, which she said is about three times higher than it should be, and ranks the state 49th in the nation.

Information on National School Counseling Week is online at schoolcounselor.org.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ