School counselors from throughout Polk County recently had an opportunity to attend the North Carolina School Counselor Association Conference in Concord thanks to a grant from the Polk Conty Community Foundation.

Six counselors attended the conference, held Nov. 13-15. Those in attendance included Ashley Bell of Polk Central Elementary, Monica Barber of Sunny View Elementary, Meghan Mauldin of Polk County High School and Sherrie Huffman, Langlee Rogers and Linda Sage of Polk County Middle School.

The North Carolina School Counselor Association promotes the professionalism and ethical practices in school counseling while providing resources, knowledge, and networking opportunities to promote student success in school, home and the community. The group’s mission is to promote excellence in the profession of school counseling and through practice, the academic, career and personal/social development of all students.

The counselors said they received numerous benefits from attending the conference

Barber: “The best part of the conference was being able to be with other counselors and hearing what type of challenges they are facing in their schools. It is always refreshing to hear others talk of similar situations and learn how they approached the situation. This is face to face contact that you can not receive from a computer based webinar or online. Also being able to spend time with the counselors in the same county lets you offer each other helping hands and support that is not always available to all the counselors. It lets the others know that they are not alone in this tough job.”

Huffman: “For me, there were two parts of the conference that were very helpful. The first was a session on Play Therapy. I recently was assigned to work at Saluda Elementary one day a week, and I was in need of finding ways to connect with younger students. I have already used some of the techniques I learned, and I was excited to learn some things that I can use with elementary students. Another session that was very insightful was ‘Addiction Proofing Our Kids.’ I learned more about the neurology and psychology behind addiction, and I came away with more knowledge about what current addiction trends are affecting our children such as vaping and gaming addiction.”

Bell: “I really enjoyed one of the sessions of a counselor that gave many different tips and techniques of fun object lessons and activities to help students remember and reinforce the topic from the lessons. Most of the activities are simple and allow the students to have a “take away” item as a visual reminder. I loved the examples the presenter showed us and plan to use these with my classroom leadership lessons where I focus on social/emotional skills each month.I will incorporate the variety of information I learned in my monthly classroom leadership lessons for students, specific student small groups, working with individual students, and sharing some important and helpful information with classroom teachers and staff at Polk Central.”

Mauldin: “I attended a session about school counseling in rural communities. It focused on the lack of resources in these areas and how schools are coming up with creative ways to help students’ needs. I also enjoyed a session on legal and ethical issues in school counseling which was a good refresher from graduate school and kept me up to date on more recent court proceedings as they relate to counselors.”

The group also noted the instrumental role that the Community Foundation played in their trip.

Huffman: “I am very thankful for the Polk County Community Foundation for giving school counselors the opportunity to attend the state conference. I have been a school counselor in Polk County for 17 years, it is always beneficial for me to gain newer insights into my profession so that I can better serve our students in Polk County. Without a grant from PCCF, I would not have been able to afford this trip. I am deeply grateful.”

Mauldin: “I am so thankful to the Polk County Community Foundation for the grant funds that made attending this conference possible. It is wonderful to live and work in a community that supports the school counselors and the students of Polk County.”

Bell: “I am very grateful to have the opportunity to attend the NCSCA conference this year by a grant through the Polk County Community Foundation. The NCSCA conference is one of the most beneficial conferences for Polk County school counselors to gain professional development that aligns with our school counseling programs. The sessions and information at this conference support the development of a comprehensive school counseling program.”