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You're the School Counselor, Right? Boosting Your Impact

By Gretchen Rhodes | September 2020

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I worked in a high school of 560 students where I was the only school counselor. I introduced myself at the opening assembly as the school counselor. I stood in the hallway outside my counseling office during every passing period. I changed what felt like 734 schedules for 560 students. I dispensed advice and support along with tissue, hair ties, deodorant, lotion and feminine hygiene products. I met with parents, led professional development and organized school-wide events.

Still, about once a week I would get a student or parent (sometimes even a teacher!) who would ask me, “You’re the counselor, right?”

And I wanted to scream.

How could they not know? Of course I’m the school counselor!

But I did as most of us do – we work in the background. We are the magic that makes it seem like all the work is done seamlessly. Well, I was ready to change that and so I began to think about how to make myself more visible.

Step 1: Creating a Brand

I worked in a school that loved acronyms so I began to think about an acronym that would encompass my work. What did I do? Who did I serve? And then I turned to our guiding organization, ASCA. We serve in three domains, Academics, College/Career, and Social/Emotional, and it hit me: ACE. I was the students’ ACE. I created a logo and plugged that logo in everywhere – every presentation I did, every handout I created, everywhere. I had my headshot taken at the ASCA conference and plugged my picture and my logo everywhere. 

Step 2: Setting Up QR Codes

I created handouts but handouts get lost and thrown away. I had been to an ASCA presentation and they used QR codes. I loved it! So I created a QR code ( and put it on everything I did. The QR code typically led back to an informational sheet about me with my contact information and what services I provided.

When they came to see me, students scanned a QR code that led to a Google form asking them to identify the ACE domain in which they needed service. I could later use this sign-in information as data to share with my administration.

Step 3: Publicizing My Work

I led professional development at my school. I presented at regional/s­­tate/national conferences. In the weekly newsletter from my principal, I created the Counseling Corner (example below) and provided ACE updates with lessons I was teaching or data from what I had taught, upcoming events, how many students I had seen, etc.

Step 4: Being Accessible and Available

My visibility had increased but as is typical with students, they would stop by my office once and then say that they cound never find me. How to increase accessibility? Enter Calendly ( Calendly allows you to create appointment times for students. You can then share that link and students can schedule an appointment with you. Calendly populates your calendar and sends the student a reminder. I created a QR code for students to scan that would take them to my Calendly appointment page.

Step 5: Curriculum Planning

I created a calendar of my lessons for the year and shared it with the staff at the opening assembly. I rotated between core subjects and grade levels. I was in classrooms every week but each teacher only saw me two or three times over the year, minimizing the interruption of classroom time.

Step 6: Data, Data, Data

Through the use of google sheets, forms, QR codes and the time management tool SCUTA (, I had data at the ready if anyone asked – and even if they didn’t ask. The more I shared my work, data and results, the more the mystery surrounding my role in helping to improve student learning outcomes was clarified and the less I was asked, “You’re the counselor, right?” Now, I had kids and staff high-fiving me in the hallway and yelling out, “Hey, ACE!”

Taking these steps – while you’re providing comprehensive school counseling services, changing schedules, teaching curriculum, leading activities, and dispensing tissues and deodorant – will increase your visibility amongst the stakeholders in your building. Build your brand, embrace technology to reach more students, and share your data and how your work impacts student learning outcomes.

You are the school counselor, right? Make sure to share the powerful impact you have in your building and for your students.

Gretchen Rhodes is class of 2024 dean of students at Evanston Township High School and a former Chicago Public Schools master counselor. Contact her at