<![CDATA[Whitehall Middle School Counseling - WMS Blog Reach Higher]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 21:05:21 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Welcome National School Counseling Week #NSCW16]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 20:08:48 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/welcome-national-school-counseling-week-nscw16Sometimes when this week arrives, I am overwhelmed. I watch my professional learning network on Facebook and Twitter with all of the energy they put into advocating for our profession, and I wish I had done more, been more, advocated more.  

My point is this:
I appreciate all the people in my world who help to make my work light.
I appreciate the support.
I appreciate the deep conversations about helping students.
I appreciate those who go the extra mile.
I appreciate the connections.
I appreciate those who challenge me.
I appreciate those whose strengths complement mine.
I appreciate my long distance colleagues who show me a new way.
I appreciate my local colleagues who are there every day.

Today we had an ice day, so I was not with students. I do not have pictures of students and the work I did with them.  I did go to school today and enter data into the Connection Survey (developed by Kim Pristawa) to evaluate the relationships students have at school. I entered numbers into an excel spreadsheet, with the hope that this information can help our whole staff remember that just one connection with an adult is a protective factor for students. I worked today when I could have been home, because I know that when I return to school tomorrow, I want to directly impact my students' day. I can do the computer work today, so that I can do the relationship work tomorrow. That is a good trade.  

Maybe the way I spent the first day of National School Counseling Week is the exact type of advocacy I need to do. Maybe as Brene Brown would say, " No matter how much I get done, or is left undone, at the end of the day I am enough."

<![CDATA[Give Me One Minute: 7th Grade Edition]]>Wed, 11 Nov 2015 01:27:59 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/give-me-one-minute-7th-grade-editionI have completed my One Minute Meetings with our current 7th graders and it is easy to see some interesting patterns. This year we had eleven students who were brand new to the district. I enjoy my one-on-one face to face meetings with each of our kids to capture a snapshot of their hopes and dreams. Our current students had a very good start to the year. 89.8% of the students responded that their year was either good or great. When I asked for more information, most said they were happy to return to school at the end of the summer and really looked forward to seeing the friends they had missed. Most had happily settled into the school year when we spoke. As a moment in time view of their school day, 87.2% said their day was either good or great.

We like to know what our students' passions (Sparks) are and, as is very typically the case, the majority of our students enjoy playing sports, dancing, or karate and doing art, music or writing. This profile is very typical-our kids love to be active and to create. As we work to improve and create good middle school structure, this data is critical to review and work to implement ways students can spend time every day expressing themselves through a Spark.

Our students set high goals and hope to do well in school. 86.4% of all 7th graders hope to get all A's or A's and B's. I typically follow this question with, "Did you get all A's and B's last year?" This gives me an opportunity to talk about some behavior changes that might need to occur. When I asked this follow up question, 46% said they needed to study more for tests, 28.6% said they needed to turn in homework more regularly, and 21% said they needed to be more organized. I plan to work with 7th graders on a lesson for study skills to enhance this area and to support our students' goal.
Speaking of setting goals, our 7th graders are planning ahead and thinking about the future already. At Whitehall Middle School, 68.3% of our students said they would like to go to a four year college or university and several stated they wanted a masters or doctorate degree, though that was not an option on the survey. 9.9% said they would like to attend a community college for two years, many of them are interested in this option so they can stay closer to home or to save money. 8.1% would like to get a job right out of high school in order to pay their own way, some even said they wanted to take a year off after high school to figure out what they want to do in the future. We saw a slight trend for a "gap year" among our students. The military was a future option for 6.8% and when asked all of them had already decided which branch.

These 9 simple questions provide me with rich useful data for the counseling program. I am able to identify areas where I can support students and address needs throughout the school year. I am grateful to my professional learning network for sharing the framework for this activity and to my colleagues for allowing me to spend a bit of time with our 7th graders. Thank you Mr. Sheesley and Mrs. Henderson for making some time for me and being flexible!

<![CDATA[Give Me One Minute]]>Mon, 05 Oct 2015 19:11:53 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/give-me-one-minuteOn Monday, September 28, I started One Minute Meetings with my 6th graders. I am so impressed with this group of 150 students. We have enrolled 17 students who are brand new to our district at this grade level. All of the students are are eager to learn, happy to be in school, and have incredibly varied interests. I had to Tweet some of their responses to my questions because they made me proud of Whitehall Middle School. You may find these at my counseling Twitter which is @CounselingWMS.

80% of our 6th graders said they had a good or great start to the year, and when asked why, they said they love their teachers and that their WEB leaders helped them feel comfortable here. Of those who responded with a 1, 2, or 3 most were concerned with getting their lockers open. This is the first year they change rooms for classes and they also reported they love a middle school structure that promotes more movement in their schedule and day.

As for the top Spark areas, 19% of 6th graders love being outside in nature or taking care of animals, 18% love playing sports, dancing or karate, and 17% love art, music or writing. For this reason, I believe our elective classes should be called essentials, and we need to be certain to focus on the whole child for our students. These areas of study during the school day are critical to the overall success of students and contribute to higher achievement levels in both reading and math.

Our students set high standards for themselves, as 50% hope to get all A's and 35% said all A's and B's. When asked about one way to improve in school, 41% of 6th graders cited a need to learn to study for tests. The next two categories in this area were "keep my locker and paper more organized" with 22% and "turn in homework more regularly" at 16%.

Our students are already thinking about a successful future, with 65% interested in attending a college or university. About 15% hope to get a job right out of high school and 11% want to attend a community college. I am here to help students make short term goals to meet these long term visions.

This quick meeting with all students gives me an opportunity to get to know all of our students in a one-on-one setting and gives me information about what kids need right from the beginning of the school year. I am excited to work with this group for the next three years. I see so much leadership and scholarship. I can't wait to see them grow up!

Next week, I hope to meet with all of my 7th graders! Stay tuned for the data from these meetings!

<![CDATA[College Ready]]>Sat, 12 Sep 2015 12:36:07 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/college-ready

Each summer since 1993, I have worked as an adjunct counselor at Muskegon Community College advising both new and returning students as they plan for the future. Over those 22 years I have gone from seeing this job as a summer job to seeing it as a unique professional development opportunity that gives me insight into college success while also working with middle school students. At M.C.C., I see students who have stayed on track in college and those who apologize for their academic record. I see students who have graduated from high school early and those dropped out and then completed a GED. I see students whose test scores show they need a full semester of foundational skills and those who enroll with 9 credits of AP classes. I see students who are completely certain about their goals and those who are totally undecided. I see athletes, musicians, future doctors and poets. I am most interested not in where these students start in college but where they finish. None of the groups I mention are inherently at risk of not completing college.

The habits and skills these students arrive with in college were molded many years ago. In elementary school, middle school, and high school students develop skills, abilities, and interests that set up like pottery as they progress through years of growth and learning. My role in middle school is concretely tied to success in later years. Research indicates middle grades are pivotal in future success in both academics and habits of success.

Through the MCC counseling department, headed by Kelley Conrad, I have learned the purpose of our actions in the advising process to successfully navigate the college transition. I understand what makes a student less likely to complete their degree and I know what strategies to suggest to improve the likelihood of success. Just like in middle school, the students I see at the college want to do well. They want to complete a degree. They want to find a career that challenges and inspires them.

There are new initiatives at M.C.C. that increase the likelihood of success for students. Over the years, I have watched the advising process become more informed by data. My days there are purposefully scheduled to reach as many students as is possible.  I have seen our process become more integrated with Financial Aid. I have seen courses become focused on "college success", and the course with this name change into a requirement (along with new student orientation). I know there are 3 main reasons a student doesn't finish: financial obligations, academic preparation, and not selecting a major. At M.C.C the advice is "Start, stay, finish."

I can see the way we are advising makes a difference. I know the research says students who see a counselor at M.C.C. improve the likelihood of student persistence and retention. My role as a counselor there (though only part-time) makes a difference to these students. Information and advice needs to be accurate and complete. Students need to see a counselor to understand the information necessary for success. The data and research is clear and I can improve my advising through the use of this data.

There are numerous tools that are useful in the process. None of them are secrets. Anyone can use them. Whether you are a middle school, high school student, or college student these are open resources designed to help you understand your options. As a student interested in a transfer program,
transfer guides based on college and major field of study are easy to access on the MCC website. The Michigan Transfer Network is available for those who have questions about courses they take in one institution and the equivalency at another. There is really no reason not to get enough information, but a counselor's knowledge and experience can help a student interpret and make use of this information.

Counseling, whether K-12 or post-secondary, is the key to making a transition between schools. We know that there are three components to making a smooth transition-safety, relationships, and information. Your counselor can help with them all. Be sure to talk to your counselor about your future plans as you return to school this fall. Make sure you take actions as a student to be career, college, and community ready. Your school counselor is uniquely trained to help you plan and succeed in the future.  I am here to help and support your goals.

<![CDATA[Let's Not Forget]]>Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:55:13 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/lets-not-forget

A friend of mine recently mentioned that on a beautiful August day she heard her teenaged son stirring in the house around 5:30 am. Mentioning that their family doesn't normally get up until 8:30 or so in the summer, she was curious. No one else was up. She asked what he was doing up so early. He replied, "I couldn't sleep."

She went back to bed. At 7:00, her husband got up and started getting ready. "What are you two doing today?" She asked.

"Today is registration for his first day of high school. He wants to be there right at 8:00 so he can get his schedule. He can go anytime between 8 and 11, but he wants to be there early. He hasn't slept all night because he can't wait to start high school."

Let's not forget this sleepless breathless excitement to start a brand new year. Let's not forget the excitement (mixed with some anxiety) to start on the next leg of a journey into the future. Let's not forget the importance of each day we have together with our students. I hope our students feel this level of excitement and anticipation all year.

<![CDATA[WMS 6th Grade Orientation Information]]>Thu, 20 Aug 2015 01:32:45 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/wms-6th-grade-orientation-informationWhitehall Middle School is excited to welcome our new 6th graders on September 3rd. Enthusiastic 8th Graders will help to make this a memorable year. We are working even now to make this the best year yet!
<![CDATA[Eastern Michigan University]]>Mon, 22 Jun 2015 01:31:56 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/eastern-michigan-university
Eastern Michigan University website
Ypsilanti, MI

The following links can bew found at the above website:
About EMU

<![CDATA[Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals]]>Fri, 19 Jun 2015 17:31:14 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/saginaw-valley-state-university-cardinals

Saginaw Valley State University

Twitter: @SVSU ("
University Center, MI

The links below come from the website above:
Tuition costs

Admission requirements:
(from SVSU website)
Students are encouraged to apply for admission as soon as they decide they are interested in attending Saginaw Valley State University. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Each application is considered individually based on overall academic achievement, ACT or SAT scores and extra-curricular involvement.

Freshman admission is based on:

  • Academic performance in high school
  • ACT or SAT results
  • Leadership, talents, conduct, and extra-curricular activities

Fall 2012 Freshman Profile*:

  • Entering class:         1,653
  • High school GPA:    3.21
  • Composite ACT:      21.6

*Average of enrolled freshmen

To be considered for admission, a student must submit the following: 

  1. Completed undergraduate application for admission
  2. Official high school transcript
  3. Official results of the ACT or SAT test
  4. A $30.00 non-refundable application fee

High School Recommendations:
 We strongly recommend high school students take a rigorous college preparatory curriculum prior to enrolling at SVSU. The base core includes: 

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of mathematics (through second year algebra)
  • 3 years of natural sciences (at least two years of biology, chemistry, or physics)
  • 3 years of social sciences
  • 2 years of the same foreign language

A solid core in these subjects will best prepare students for college-level work and provide the broadest possible range of academic choices. Students graduating from a Michigan high school are expected to meet the requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum.


Eric Davis,  Assistant Director of Admissions at Saginaw Valley State University. responded to the blog questions in the following way:

1. Describe your institution and the type of student that is the "best fit."
"Saginaw Valley State University is the youngest and most affordable of the 15 public universities in Michigan. Our green, sprawling campus is located in University Center, Michigan, in the area between Bay City, Saginaw, and Midland. As stated in
our mission statement, Saginaw Valley believes in fostering an environment of inquiry and openness that respects the diversity of all whom it serves. SVSU is also a NCAA Division II school, and our nickname is the Cardinals. With a small-campus feel and an average class size of 22 students, Saginaw Valley is looking for students who seek to stand out and lead rather than be lost in a crowd. "

2. What are your admission requirements?
"SVSU's admission requirements for a 'first time in college' student is a 2.5 GPA and an 18 ACT."

3. Why is post-secondary training important?
"Post-secondary training is very important when it comes to having a career. For one, If the skills and abilities of two prospective employees are equal, often a college degree or other post-secondary training can be the determining factor for who gets hired. In addition, college graduates generally earn more than those without a college degree."

4. As the parent of a middle school student, what steps can I take now to help my child succeed in the future?
"My best piece of advice for the parent of a middle school student is to encourage your child to read. Find one book, or a series of books, that your child will enjoy and attempt to encourage the child to read for fun, outside of required classroom readings. High reading ability will help in all other areas of education.
I hope this helps, and good luck...! I'll be following along!"

<![CDATA[Wayne State University in the cultural center of Detroit]]>Mon, 01 Jun 2015 01:03:01 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/wayne-state-university-in-the-cultural-center-of-detroit
Wayne State University website
Twitter: @waynestate ("A premier research university serving a diverse body of motivated students in vibrant Midtown,the cultural center of Detroit.")
Detroit, MI

The following links can be found on the website above:
About Wayne State

Visit Wayne State University
Advice for Middle School Students
Science Experiment courtesy of WSU
What classes should I take in HS?
Middle School Brochure


The following responses come from LaJoyce Gwen Brown, Interim Senior Director Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation,Wayne State University.

1. Describe your institution and what type of student is the best fit.

Students who want more from college than a degree — students who want an experience — thrive at Wayne State University. After choosing from hundreds of degree options, our students live and learn on a bustling campus surrounded by Detroit, with its exceptional entertainment and cultural opportunities.

Wayne State’s urban location offers unique access to a real-world education. Lessons go beyond lectures to hands-on research in high-tech labs, internships with nearby corporations and fieldwork within the community.

2. What are your admission requirements?

Because good students come from different backgrounds with varied academic experiences, Wayne State University reviews each applicant individually. Admission is based on a student’s GPA, ACT or SAT score, and any supporting documentation that may be requested or provided. The journey starts online at apply.wayne.edu.

3. Why is post-secondary training important?

When compared to people with just a high school degree, college graduates earn about $1 million more over the course of their working lives. Best of all: College graduates are paid that extra million not by doing a job but by succeeding in their chosen career.

But college isn’t just about making bank. Wayne State students try new things, discover hidden talents, meet interesting people and make lifelong friends on campus.

When students are willing to put in the time and effort, Wayne State is eager to help them succeed. With the lowest tuition rates among the state’s three research universities, WSU offers an outstanding value — as well as scholarships and financial aid programs to help make college affordable.

4. As the parent of a middle school student, what steps can I take now to help my child succeed in the future?

Taking school seriously now will help your student get where they want to go in the future. Encourage them to sign up for advanced courses and work hard toward great grades. This means participating in class and forming study groups to fortify lessons. Well-rounded students go beyond the books through sports, band, theater, student government — any extracurricular activity that grabs their interest and helps them soar.

A smart way to focus your child’s eye on the future is to show them what’s ahead. Come to Midtown for a campus visit. Walking tours are led by current Wayne State students who will offer inside information and answer questions candidly as they guide you through classrooms, libraries, labs and residence halls. Schedule your Wayne State tour today at wayne.edu/visit.

Become a Wayne State University Warrior!

<![CDATA[Albion College the Britons]]>Sat, 16 May 2015 12:34:36 GMThttp://whitehallmscounseling.weebly.com/wms-blog-reach-higher/albion-college-the-britons

Albion College is a private liberal arts college located in Albion, Michigan. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, it was founded in 1835.

Albion website 
Twitter: @albioncollege ("Albion College provides students the knowledge, skills, and experience to  succeed in in college, in their career, and in their life.")
Albion, MI

The following links can be found on the website above:
Who We Are
Admission criteria
FAQ's on tuition, test scores and courses
General information
Equestrian program

Go to Albion College