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Leadership Letter: To Advocate and Celebrate

By Jen Smela | January 2023

Happy New Year! I am sending well-wishes to you for a fulfilling, purposeful and joy-filled 2023. Coming upon us quickly will be our opportunity to celebrate National School Counseling Week, February 6-10. I’ve always felt a little conflicted about this week in that I think it is hard to be our own advocates and celebrants at the same time! I have to resist the urge to feel as though this is self-serving, and challenge myself to approach NSCW with a lens of education and strategic advocacy. NSCW is our opportunity to go beyond a week of fun festivities (of course those are vitally important!), to promote the meaningful, data-driven work we do and to help our school communities understand the importance of school counseling in the academic, career and social/emotional development of the students. What a fantastic avenue to build clarity and definition for our roles – in our own voices and experiences – so that stakeholders may better understand the value of school counselors!

I believe it is a common experience in all levels of school counseling that we hold the tension between being big-picture thinkers, innovators and leaders and also having to manage details (often minutia), processes and perspectives from the front lines each and every day. It is in that tension where school counselors are invaluable leaders in guiding others to see the large and the small significance we experience in our schools. NSCW is a forum for us to highlight our unique perspectives and advocate for those perspectives to be a part of leadership teams at building and district levels. School counselors are uniquely qualified to play an influential role in strategic planning, vision casting, initiative building and decision making in schools and at the district level because we are the hub of all that happens with students. School counselors look systemically at issues while also speaking to individual student experiences and outcomes; our leadership and student advocacy is invaluable and NCSW is our week to shine a light on that influence!

My hope for you for National School Counseling Week 2023 is that you embrace the leadership you bring to your schools and districts and that you know just how crucial you are. May your voices be heard and your perspective recognized as essential!

Contact Jen Smela, a school counselor at Fossil Ridge High School and CSCA president-elect, at