Sunday, September 7, 2014

Advisory Council

I am pleased to share that my co-counselor and I held our first school counseling program advisory council meeting this past week. Establishing an advisory council is not only an integral part of becoming a Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP), but it is a fantastic way to share your vision with key stakeholders who can help support your program goals.

Steps to establish an advisory council:
  • Make a list of potential members that represent all stakeholders; obtain approval from principal
  • Determine meeting date, time, place; obtain approval from principal
  • Draft and send invitation to potential members seeking their participation in the council (we found email to be most convenient for this purpose; be sure to include council purpose and member expectations)
  • Draft and send invitation to initial council meeting to members 
  • Prepare agenda, presentation, handouts, sign in sheet, and meeting room
  • Draft and send meeting reminder to council members
  • Ask a trusted council member to take minutes during the meeting
  • Host your first advisory council meeting
  • Draft and send a "thank you" email with meeting minutes attached to members 
  • Celebrate your hard work and relish in the fact that you have done something HUGE for your program!
If you are interested, you can view our meeting agenda, presentation, and a list of representative areas that we included in our council here: HES Advisory Council Docs Note that I used the PowerPoint framework from an advisory council presentation I found online from the school counseling program of Stradford High School in Berkley County. I would share the link, but it appears that their advisory council documents have been removed from their website. 

We started our meeting by asking members to share their name, role, and brief memory of a guidance counselor they had when growing up. (We used the "G-word" on purpose to help us illustrate the transformation of the role of the school counselor later in the presentation). Starting the meeting in this way was a nice icebreaker for members as they were not sure what to expect as this was our first meeting. Most of the memories focused on counselors who were not particularly helpful or memorable while a few had some fond memories to share. This provided a segue into a discussion on the new role of the school counselor.

Our council members had some fabulous feedback and suggestions. They expressed wanting to help support our program goals and seemed genuinely happy to participate on our council. In the days immediately following our meeting, several members shared with us that they were impressed by our presentation and passion for the profession. My co-counselor and I reflected on our meeting and we truly feel that we have broke ground in establishing a strong school counseling program. We are at a brand new school this year, so we have an opportunity to build our program from the ground up. Thanks to our advisory council, we feel that we have the support to achieve our program goals. We hope their enthusiasm spreads to their respective teams and groups to help all of our stakeholders gain better understanding of our role and how we support student success.

So what are you waiting for? Do something BIG for your program and start a school counseling program advisory council!