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President's Letter: The Heart and Soul of School Counseling

By Jennifer Quintana | September 2021

Dear Amazing School Counselors,

It is my honor and privilege to be your CSCA president for the 2021–2022 school year. I look forward to serving you, advocating for Colorado school counseling, and meeting many of you at the CSCA Conference! I am entering my 17th year as a school counselor, and am at STEM Launch K–8 in Adams 12 Five Star Schools.

SEL is the heart and soul of school counseling. Whatever curriculum you use to deliver SEL in your schools is secondary. What is important is how you present it! We are essential in the delivery of these programs and working with all stakeholders in how to deliver SEL to help develop a systemic, school-wide program that helps change student behavior and change school culture.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned through all the years of teaching and delivering an SEL program:
  1. Don’t go it alone! Start with administration for support and let them see the value in doing a system-wide SEL program. They will be the mouthpiece for telling teachers that you are doing this and need time in classrooms to teach. They are also the ones to invest money into the SEL program. Try starting a PBIS or a Climate & Culture Committee made up of all stakeholders to identify areas that need more support and what is possible to do school wide.
  2. Work with teachers on the delivery of SEL through co-teaching. It is fun to see how teachers approach SEL and a great way to collaborate and learn from each other.
  3. Collect data. Show the pre-SEL data to stakeholders to point out where the needs are and have a plan for where you would like the data to be. Report out the end results data at the end of the year to see what changes have been made.
  4. Research curriculum. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel in programming. CASEL and TPT have great lessons with activities to do with students.
  5. Incorporate advisory classes into the master schedule as a way for all teachers to participate in SEL lessons and for you to get into the classroom to deliver lessons. Keep in mind that SEL should not be a one-time lesson but should be ingrained in every subject. Teachers should all be using the same language in order for it to be done effectively and with fidelity.
  6. Utilize professional development to train staff on implementing SEL into classrooms.
  7. Have fun! Go outside, use circles, play games, have the kids role play and act out situations, use video and music, use books to teach concepts and use Kagan strategies to liven things up. SEL is energizing and there are so many ways to make the lessons fun!
If you would like to talk to me more about SEL programming, please reach out at any time. I am extremely blessed to be able to work with so many amazing school counselors and I look forward to meeting many more. Good luck with this school year!

Contact Jennifer Quintana, CSCA president, at