District’s guidance counselors plan for the future
by Julia Asin
Published September 26, 2013
A mission statement created by the Palo Alto Unified School District’s middle and high school guidance counselors at a retreat last Friday will be presented at a board meeting in November.
This past school year and summer, a group of guidance counselors met together to start on the vision and mission statement, which has also been described as a logic model. At the retreat last Friday, they presented it to the rest of the counselors for the first time.
Kathy Laurence, an assistant principal at Palo Alto High School, helped the guidance counselors with the model, along with assistant principals from Henry M. Gunn High School and Terman Middle School, and noted the level of work that had gone into getting the model to this stage.
“They’ve been working hard over the last year or so to get kind of get to this point where they could actually look at guidance as an overall big picture for the district,” Laurence said. “What do we want [for] every student, no matter how it’s delivered? What are the things that every student should have when they leave?”
Susan Shultz, the lead Paly guidance counselor, helped to make edits to the model, which is in its final stages.
“We looked at it on Friday and kind of made some minor tweaks to it,” Shultz said. “I think the plan is to present it at the November board meeting.”
The guidance counselors also met to discuss the similarities between their different programs.
“We’re trying to look at what all students in the district are receiving, what services,” Shultz said. “They’re gonna vary how they’re delivered at the schools but what kind of services are all students in secondary schools receiving.”
Shultz also said that the point of the meeting was not to change the guidance system at Paly.
“It’s more about what we do alike,” Schultz said. “The district has seen a lot of things that are different, in the guidance systems. You’ve probably heard about it – the difference between especially the Paly and Gunn systems.”
The two guidance systems work with different systems, and the Gunn guidance system has faced more criticism than the Paly system. In a 2012 story conducted by consultant Kelun Zhang, 72% of Paly students were “satisfied with the level of support I get from my teacher adviser” whereas only 53% of Gunn students could say the same.
“At Paly, academic is being covered by the teacher advisors, social and emotional by the guidance counselors, college and career by the career advisors, with our three tiered guidance system,” Shultz said, “Gunn doesn’t have a teacher advisor program so their guidance counselors are doing basically all of it with the support of their new college advisors.”
According to both Laurence and Shultz, the guidance retreat left most attendees with positive feelings.
“I thought it was one of the best counselor meetings that I have attended, it was really productive,” Laurence said. “People are moving in the same direction.”
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