The Counselor in the Principal’s Leadership Circle

As counselors assume leadership roles in the school, they become the principals’ greatest allies and advocates for the school and its students within the community.


CHALLENGE: Make counselors an integral part of the school leadership team.

CHRISTIAN ROSADO (Valedictorian, Northwest College Prep High School, Rochester, NY) – A school is more than a building, it’s a culture. You are in there six hours a day, five days a week. You need people you can rely on, trust. The school I used to go to, I did not know my guidance counselor, I didn’t learn anything much. But here, my teachers are great. They stay after school most every day, they help you out in any way they can, they have a connection with your guidance counselor. It’s different here. It’s different in that it’s a family. PRINCIPAL TOYIA WILSON (Northwest Prep High School) – Our counselors are involved every step of the way. Everything we develop, organize and do starts off with a conversation between the counseling team and myself.

BEST PRACTICE: Aim for collaboration, teamwork and open conversations with school counseling staff.

COUNSELOR NAKIA BURROWS (Northwest Prep High School) – Everything you see in this school stems out of the counselors’ and the principal’s meeting.

PRINCIPAL TOYIA WILSON – Every week we meet and we come up with ideas that then are shared with the entire leadership team and built upon from there. So most everything we do has come from a conversation I’ve had with the two counselors in those Monday morning meetings.

BEST PRACTICE: Meet regularly with counselors; reconfirm the school vision and share new ideas.

COUNSELOR DALE SCHAMBACK (Northwest Prep High School) – Giving counselors an executive role helps because we’re kind of at the forefront—the front lines—with our kids. We know them very well. We know what they need, what they want.

BEST PRACTICE: Give counselors a leadership role in crafting an inclusive school culture.

SENIOR COUNSELOR TERRY QUIROS (South Bronx Prep) – When this school was started, it was understood that the role of the counselor was going to be a leadership role; it was going to be the role of a change agent.

NARRATOR – Counselors serve as direct extensions to and from the principal. As advisors and gatherers of data, they have their fingers on the pulse of their school, but also provide a means to more effectively carry out the principal’s initiatives, getting other staff members on board.

BEST PRACTICE: Develop a counselor’s role in connecting the school’s mission with both students and teachers.

PRINCIPAL TOYIA WILSON – We struggled in the past couple of years with teachers who’ve come to us not completely on board with the College Board mission as well as our mission at Northwest. What we’ve tried to do is help them see and understand how important our mission is. It goes back to advisory, and again, my counselors are huge members of our leadership team. They are the co-chairs of the advisory committee, so they are deeply involved in the training of all of our staff members and at the core of all of the different assignments throughout the year. The counselors have been there every step of the way, helping everyone understand that this is our mission and we really mean it.

BEST PRACTICE: Unite counselors, faculty and principal in formulating and implementing every new initiative.

COUNSELOR NAKIA BURROWS – The principal and counselors are really the nucleus of the school. Between both counselors, we sit on every committee that has ever started in our school. We’re not just counselors for the students, but we’re counselors to the staff, too.

BEST PRACTICE: Counselors are the chief leaders in creating a college-going culture. Encourage, reward and foster their drive and mission.

COUNSELOR DALE SCHAMBACK – The fact that we all collaborate as staff members here. Probably first and foremost, the relationship we have with our principal to be able to bounce ideas off each other, and she gives us the flexibility to be creative in our job. BEST PRACTICE: Cultivate principal-counselor relationships and a free exchange of ideas.

COUNSELOR NAKIA BURROWS – The confidence has always been there because we all share the same vision. We know what we need, and we know what we want, and we know that in order for us to be successful, it’s going to take all of us.

PRINCIPAL TOYIA WILSON – I see us as a school of leaders. I always say it’s a team. It takes a team effort, it’s a team approach— it’s not one person who stands out. I can’t do a good job by myself. I really need my counselors, my teachers, my advisors and parents to help us in this quest to make sure our students cross that finish line—that one step to college.