Conferencing is taking on a new meaning at Cudahy Middle and High Schools. The four counselors at the two buildings are working toward a new goal of “HELP”-ing students to build upon their current strengths and work toward their goals with the implementation of the Wisconsin Comprehensive School Counseling Model (WCSCM), which includes a major conferencing component.
Conferencing, which involves an 8th or 10th grade student meeting with his or her counselor and parent(s)/guardian(s) to discuss his or her current academic progress, strength areas, goals, and future plans, began with the School District of Cudahy’s implementation of the WCSCM in the 2009-2010 school year. The program reaches out to all students, staff, parents and the community.
Middle School Counselor Melanie Flynn-McCauley and High School Counselors Terri Meyer, Jeff Zore, and Amy Oost are excited about the initiative, as Cudahy was one of the first school districts in the area to start the implementation of this model. The WCSCM, developed by the State of Wisconsin, provides a way of creating a school-community support team.
“We feel that this is a wonderful opportunity for us to literally ‘get everyone at the table’ and discuss the central focus of the conference – the student,” Meyer, also the Counseling Department Head, said.
Counselors from the School District attended three levels of training on the administration of the model. The counseling staff is focusing on conferencing in grades 8 and 10.
“These are transitional times for students,” Meyer added. “With 8th graders going on to high school in the next school year and 10th graders thinking ahead to life after high school in just a couple of short years, we can address concerns and hopefully give them the tools to be successful as they transition.”
The 8th grade conferences, referred to as High School Educational and Life Planning or HELP Conferences are individual conferences for 8th grade students and parent(s), guardian(s) or a significant adult and the school counselor to discuss current progress toward the student’s academic and career goals. Families are updated about the upcoming transition to the high school, and students create a plan to reach their future goals.
Grade 10 conferencing, or HELP+ (High School Educational and Life Planning), invites the student and parents to meet with their school counselor to focus on the student’s current interests, strengths, high school plans, post high school plans, education and career options, plus other topics and sources of information relevant to current and post high school opportunities.
“We know that sometimes it is not easy to begin these types of discussions among families, so this provides all of us with the opportunity to start the ball rolling on this important ‘next step’ in a student’s life,” said Meyer.
The WCSCM at Cudahy is an integral component of the district’s primary academic mission. This program supports, facilitates, and encourages classroom instruction and student achievement. It is designed to be proactive and assists students in acquiring and using life-long learning skills. Cudahy’s school counseling program employs strategies to enhance academics, encourage self-awareness, foster interpersonal communication skills, provide career awareness, develop employment readiness, and impart life skills for all students.
The central message of this new model is that a collaborative relationship between school, parents, and community provides students with the skills necessary for each of them to become successful lifelong learners, good citizens, and productive workers.
Most of the 8th grade HELP conferences happen in November through January, while high school counselors meet with grade 10 students and parents for the HELP+ conferences from mid-February through April. Evaluations completed by students and parent have been extremely positive.
“We are excited about this opportunity and the ways in which it benefits students,” Middle School Counselor Melanie Flynn-McCauley said. “And we plan to continue conferencing for years to come”
Additional information about the WCSCM can be found at http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/sspw/scguidemodel.html
School counselors can also be contacted:
Cudahy Middle School: Melanie Flynn-McCauley – 294-2837
Cudahy High School: Terri Meyer – 294-2709, Amy Oost – 294-2708, Jeff Zore – 294-2707
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