Brewster High School counselor Jessica McCann recently represented New York state at the American School Counseling Association’s (ASCA) 2019 School Counselor of the Year Ceremony in Washington, D.C. Recognized during a black-tie awards gala, McCann was the New York State School Counselor Association’s 2017 School Counselor of the Year.
According to the ASCA, “State school counselor of the year honorees were selected based on several criteria, including: school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership and advocacy skills and contributions to student advancement.”
Before the gala, the counselors were invited to attend a presentation at the National Press Club with Jill Biden and John King, former United States Secretary of Education. Later in the evening, there was an awards gala at Union Station to celebrate the state Counselors of the Year and choose a national winner.
“School counselors make significant contributions to the overall well‐being of students and their success. Their unique qualifications and training allow them to support students’ academic achievement, career development and social/emotional needs,” said Richard Wong, Ed.D., ASCA executive director.
McCann said that one of the most important things happening in the Brewster High School guidance department is their small group guidance model. School counselors meet with groups of ten to twelve students, which helps build relationships and encourages students to see the guidance office as a safe place where they can feel welcome and turn to if they have questions or concerns.
“We shifted from classroom push-ins to small group guidance about five years ago,” McCann explained. “That has really made a difference in how well we’ve gotten to know our students, how frequently we can interact with them, and helps to ensure that the curriculum we’re delivering is comprehensive and consistent across all counselors and through all of the grades. It’s really made a difference.”
Humble, McCann noted that the Brewster guidance department as a whole deserves as much credit as she does.
“We’re working very hard to develop a comprehensive K-12 guidance program. Everyone who is in this department, including the social workers, mental health counselors, and school psychologists, are working towards the goal of supporting students and helping them to be successful in high school. The collaboration amongst the department is really the key to our success. They deserve as much credit as anyone else. It’s the fact that we’re all working together so closely towards this common goal.”