February 2018

President's Letter: Be a Bridge to Students' Future

By Dana Kurilew
During my junior year of high school, I distinctly remember a meeting I had with the college and career counselor. I went into the meeting, like many of our students, unsure of my future, career paths and opportunities that were available to me outside of the walls of my high school and small town. The anxiety associated with the unknown of my future was undoubtedly paralyzing. I remember constant and relentless discussions with friends, family members and coaches about “what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” too scared to admit that I had absolutely no idea. Would a career in business provide me with opportunities that a career in education would not? Would an education-related career allow me to connect and support individuals in a way that most likely would never be present in a business-related career? Like many teenagers, these challenging questions and conversations consumed me throughout my junior and senior years of high school. Thankfully, and probably without her knowing, my college and career counselor served as my guide and mentor as I navigated through the never-ending list of post-high school options. Her patience, persistence, and all-encompassing knowledge of different opportunities and the college process helped me make decisions that affected me not only on graduation day, but continue to serve as the foundation for where I am today. 
As our profession continues to evolve, we must not forget the importance of our role as educators and continue to increase the focus on college and career readiness. We must continue to reach higher to deliver college and career readiness skills to all students through our comprehensive school counseling programs. The students of today and tomorrow will require an education that provides them with the academic, career and technical skills, and dispositions to be career ready upon graduation from high school.
At a time when academic expectations are high and college and career options are many, varied and constantly changing, students need support and encouragement and school counselors are the perfect people for this job. Counselors serve as a bridge to support students as they navigate the uncharted waters of adolescence so they can ultimately succeed in school and their future occupation. Students need strong adults educating them on available opportunities and the skill sets required in this rapidly changing workforce. Counselors play a vital role in assisting all students by helping them think about who they are, where they are headed and how they will get there. If we continue to fulfill this role we will undoubtedly have an impact on not only the future of the workforce, but the diversity and effectiveness of its members.
Contact Dana Kurilew, NJSCA president, at president@njsca.org