Community Foundation grant allows school counselors to attend state, national conferences

School counselors across Polk County Schools received opportunities to attend state and national conference thanks to a grant from the Polk County Community Foundation.

Counselors from six schools in the district attended the North Carolina School Counselor Association conference held in Concord in November. The group enjoyed pre-conference sessions on technology, breakout sessions regarding relevant issues to North Carolina students and keynote speakers.

Counselors particularly enjoyed the keynote speech of Houston Kraft, noted author, curriculum developer and kindness advocate. Kraft developed the “Character Strong” school-wide curriculum that focuses on kindness.

“Character Strong is to teach kids kindness while also giving teachers and educators low-stress tools that can help with dealing with student behaviors and concerns,” said Langlee Rogers, school counselor at Polk County Middle School. “As educators, we are always looking for ways to help our students that are effective. I am excited to use some of the tools we were given and to start using them in the classrooms at PCMS. I also want to partner with teachers in my school to help students who may be dealing with trauma and need a little more kindness each day.”

School counselors at the NCSCA conference also got to network and learn from counselors from different parts of the state.

“Connecting with other school counselors from across the state is such a meaningful experience,” said Polk County High School counselor Katy Montgomery. “We can learn so much from other counselors when we are given the opportunity to connect.”

The national conference sponsored by the American School Counselor Association took place earlier this year in Atlanta. Sherrie Huffman of PCMS and Meghan Mauldin from PCHS attended the conference. The two attended many sessions related to a number of issues that counselors face nationwide, and they met and worked with many other counselors from all over the country.

“One of the best sessions that I attended was ‘Counseling Students through Grief.’ Our students have lost so many loved ones due to COVID and various other issues in the past few years, and there are many facets of grief that affect our students,” Huffman said. “I learned that the traditional ways of counseling students who are dealing with grief don’t always work. We as counselors have to be flexible, and we have to teach students that feeling grief is OK.”

Other highlights from the ASCA conference include keynote speaker Henry Winkler and a nighttime trip to the Georgia Aquarium.

“Having been out of the counseling field for 10 years, and with the rise in mental health issues in young people, the opportunity to attend the conference and to learn from other counselors has been invaluable,” said Lisa Obermiller, counselor at Saluda Elementary and Polk Middle. “I am grateful to Polk County Community Foundation for their generous support of the Polk Schools school counselors and their programs.”

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