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From the Executive Director: To Whose Family Do You Belong?

By Matthew McClain | March 2018

Many of us when defining our “family” think of our immediate relatives. However, have you ever thought about the other “families” in which you belong? Aside from my brother, cousins, wife and children, I have my work family, CSCA family, ASCA family, and school counseling family. It may sound trite to list those, but I was recently with counselors from all over the country and several stated, “This is like a family reunion!” I could not agree more.

What is it about that family that makes us feel the way we do? Connection. We are connected because of our calling and passion for helping students. If we do not have that connection, I would surmise that we would not feel like we belong. What do you think the families of our students feel like when they enter our schools? Many of our students endure extraordinary circumstances in their lives outside the school day. Although they may not seem like they want to be at school, it may be the only place many of our students truly feel safe. That safety comes from structure, expectations and predictability.

Thinking about these things as we work with our students and their families is critical. I met with a student and his mother yesterday morning as a reentry after a threat assessment. As our team was speaking with the mother, we asked again about access to weapons. Mom stated (through a translator), “There are no weapons, I don’t have money for those things – I barely have money for rent.” We are a critical piece of the puzzle in our students’ lives that connect them to resources. We are the ones that encourage the students to reach higher in their postsecondary endeavors. We are the ones to connect families to family resource centers in our communities and help them access resources that help them survive.

As you think about the different “families” you belong to, I challenge you to consider the areas where you feel very connected and people who may not feel the same way. Is it possible to reach out and help create that connection? I further challenge you to think about the areas where you do not feel connected. If this is an area of your life that is important to you, what can you do or whom can you reach out to that would improve this connection? Is this easy? No. Can it benefit you? Yes. If you do not feel a connection with your professional associations, I again challenge you to reach out to someone on the CSCA board or the ASCA board. We are here to promote our profession. These board members are passionate about our profession and about helping those in the profession.

As you consider the different connections in your life, keep in mind that the theme for the CSCA 2018 Conference is “Creating Connections.” Come create some connections in beautiful Keystone on October 18-19, 2018.

People do not always understand our job and our role, but we are many things to many people. And ultimately, we may be the only “family” that our students have.

Contact Matthew McClain, CSCA executive director, at