The Counselor as a Leader of Students

Advisory is a space that incorporates a student’s inspiration at school with his or her life at home and in the community — helping drive success in various areas of a student’s life. See how English language learners receive guidance and tutelage within the context of a counseling program.


CHALLENGE: Students from diverse backgrounds need support networks capable of providing equally diverse solutions.

COUNSELOR DALE SCHAMBACK (Northwest Prep) – Advisory is really the heartbeat of our school. That’s where we first hit everything.

TERRY QUIROS (Senior Counselor, South Bronx Prep) – In order to have the successful school that we have, there has to be an ongoing conversation about what our students live with outside this building, the level of parental involvement and to live up the commitment that we will do what we promised to do.

PRINCIPAL ELLEN FLANAGAN (South Bronx Prep) – We are going into our fifth graduation this year, the first graduating class had 74%. Last year was the first graduating class of kids who had actually started at the school as sixth graders and then finished as twelfth graders. And 92% of them finished, which is beyond great. We absolutely, really, depend on, cultivate and deepen the relationships with out students—they have to want to be here. And through that engagement, you find the hidden gems; the kids have unknown talents. And it’s because they have confidence and a belief system that wants them, then, to showcase that. They’re only going to open up to you if they believe in the relationship and we really try to create an atmosphere in which the relationship is going to be the gateway for the learning—learning socially, emotionally and academically.

BEST PRACTICE: Collaborative efforts between faculty, counselors and principal build connections with students as a gateway for success.

NARRATOR – When counselors and teachers work in tandem, they can change a student’s present or save a student’s future. At Park View High School in Virginia, a large population of recent immigrants means English Language Learners classes, or ELL, are part of their education.

PRINCIPAL VIRGINIA MINSHEW (Park View High School) – Because we have such a large English Language Learners population, we also have a dedicated English Language Learners Counselor.

VANESSA CHANG (Park View High School) – Some of our students come when they’re 16, 17, 18 years old and some of them don’t have time to take all the ELL courses they need to learn the language that they need to succeed in the high school courses and earn all those credits in order to graduate with the regular diploma. So there’s been a new program developed called the Gateway program to help them get their GEDs. They pass whatever portions they can and then tailor their further instruction to the portions of the GED they still need to take. So it’s been a really good option and it’s also preparing them for working opportunities, so the idea is to also teach them life skills and career skills.

BEST PRACTICE: Establish a counselor-supported scaffolded learning structure.

NARRATOR – It’s counseling that gives them a sense of care and confidence that they’ll carry forward into other classrooms.

PRINCIPAL VIRGINIA MINSHEW – This job is all about relationships. Students and parents who are new to the community need to have one voice that they can go to. And we need to build that trusting relationship with those families.

BEST PRACTICE: Easy access to counselors builds trust between a school and the community.

VANESSA CHANG – We have a lot of talk about respecting other students and how it makes you feel if someone laughs at something you say. And I talk to them myself about experiences I’ve had trying to speak, learning new languages and living in Germany for a while and being willing to take risks and how you’re not going to learn if you don’t take risks and practice and try.

PRINCIPAL VIRGINIA MINSHEW – It’s the counselor you have a relationship with that is a meaningful relationship; that you know that person cared about you as an individual.