From the Chair: Finding Our Purpose, Sharing Our Gift
By Lezya Weglarz | January 2023
My favorite day of the week is the day I get to spend with my school counseling graduate students. Their enthusiasm for learning about our profession and their inquiries about how to best address inequities in education make me confident that their future students are in great hands. I am grateful for the opportunity to share the invaluable role school counselors play in supporting students, families and our school communities with them, but am also honest about some of the challenges of our profession. I wholeheartedly believe that school counselors are bridge builders who connect students to networks of support both in and outside of school. School counselors collaborate with school staff, families, and community resources to meet the diverse needs of every student. Most importantly, they work to remove barriers for students so that they may have equitable access to education so that they can attain their future aspirations. In the process, school counselors inspire hope.
One of my favorite concepts to introduce to learners of all ages is the concept of ikigai. Although it has no exact English translation, the Japanese concept of ikigai is when your passion, mission, profession and vocation are all in alignment. In other words, it is your “life’s purpose” or “reason for being.” Our work as school counselors aligns perfectly with the concept of ikigai as we intentionally help students discover their unique strengths, interests and values, and help them align these assets to postsecondary aspirations. School counselors are life changers in more ways than one.
The role of the school counselor has never been more important. It is clear that the mental health concerns of our students continue to be at the forefront of our work, yet we recognize the need to create better systems to proactively support the academic, social/emotional and postsecondary readiness development of every student. School counselors know that in order to ensure equity in our comprehensive school counseling programs, we are diligently reviewing data and creating opportunities for every student. The unfortunate reality in many schools is that folks on our campuses do not fully understand the scope of our professional training and our roles in schools.
National School Counseling Week (February 6-10, 2023) is a great opportunity to share with your school staff, families and students how you support the holistic needs of every student. For example, my counseling team and I have presented at all-staff meetings and school board meetings to share data on how our support and interventions have impacted student attitudes, skills and knowledge, and shared outcome data. We describe how we collaborate with other school-based mental health professionals and how we strengthen school-family partnerships. We also share guiding documents from CASC and ASCA. Any opportunity to share how school counselors support our school communities increases not only awareness, but support from all education partners.
While we all want to be appreciated for the work that we do, National School Counseling week is an opportunity to clarify our roles and share our impact.
One of my favorite quotes is: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” My hope for you in the new year is that you continue to find purpose in sharing your gift with students and your school community.