SIG Focus: Private School Counselors

From the May 3, 2017 NACAC Bulletin:

Co-Leaders of the Private School Counselors Special Interest Group:
Bill Hancock, Cranbrook Schools, MI
Troy Hammond, Bayview Glen School, Toronto

NACAC Special Interest Groups (SIGs) nurture the growing diversity in our association by providing “micro” communities where members can network and add value to their membership experience. These smaller subsets of members are formed for the purpose of knowledge sharing and discussion among members with similar interests whether they are specific subjects, issues or type of institution, or students they serve.

So how is your spring going? If it’s anything like mine, you are in the middle of juggling helping seniors make final choices, helping juniors who aren’t quite sure how to make any choices, tracking down reticent seniors who have forgotten to share with you their college results, meetings with anxious parents of all flavors, planning college visits for your own professional development, registering students for classes, and the ever-present combo of coaching, concerts and ceremonies. Welcome to being a counselor for an independent school – you are not alone.

And that is partially the point of pulling this Special Interest Group together. It is not hard, or beyond the scope of one’s imagination, to envision times of the year when we each feel a little overwhelmed or creatively at our wit’s end; it is at those times that the pool of talent that is within this SIG could, and should, come to our aid. The purpose behind forming this group is to provide support through the sharing of information and counsel. Traditionally, we have gathered at the national conference each year to share our experiences and concerns; we certainly intend to continue that tradition.

We would like to, however, have this group consider the possibility of using the Private School Counselors SIG Exchange Group to achieve a bit more. I know from our experience at my school, we were asked by our parents and the administration to expand our traditional college counseling program to include targeted programing for students in grades 9 and 10. I know what we came up with for a program, but I also believe that the SIG Exchange could be a wonderful repository for Best Practices for this kind of programing. What ARE the current Best Practices for a 9th grade program? How do we measure our students’ progress? How do we address the concerns of our parents and start the process of educating them as to what to expect in today’s competitive environment? So many of these questions could be addressed by the talent within this group. So this is one of the hopes that we have for this SIG; to become a place to turn to when faced with programming challenges. The SIG could, and should, become a creative and vibrant exchange for the sharing of useful ideas.

One of the other responsibilities that many of us have is that we must report to Boards. What do those reports look like? Could they be better? Could these reports help us move a school culture in a positive direction? Reporting to a Board, or to the school administration, should be looked upon as an opportunity for quality communication and understanding. If it is simply another chore, we are missing out. How can we help each other become better advocates for what we do? Another opportunity for the sharing of Best Practices and mutual support? Probably so.

Please think about the possibilities for this SIG as we move forward. As co-leaders of this group, we invite you to send your ideas, questions, or challenges you would like to work through to us via the Private School Counselors SIG Exchange Group. If it is easier, you may also contact us directly. We look forward to a productive year as we move forward to the conference.