September 27, 2011

CPS- When do you call?

Hey all,

I have a question to pose for you today. But I should preface it with a story. In case you are not from Wisconsin, CPS stands for Child Protective Services. As you all know, we are mandated reporters. Okay, on to the story.

Today at my internship site, all the counselors meet to discuss whether or not we should call CPS on a student. Without getting into any detail, there were some stories this student told that became concerning for us. While there was no visible evidence and the story we heard was told second hand, we had to try and decide whether or not to call CPS.

Now its time for you to answer, when do you feel you need to call child protective services, or whatever its called in your state? Does it change for each age level? Does your state do well at following up?

Please give me feedback. I am curious!


September 16, 2011

My first one-on-one!

Hello all!

I already have over 50 hours at my high school internship site. I think, well I know, that I am going to have way more hours than I need but I want to finish out the semester here!!Two days ago was the first time that I actually was able to do some individual counseling. I have been observing here and there since I started but this time I actually had a girl in my office! And I was the one counseling her.

We mostly were just talking about college. She knows she wants to go out of state but she really isn't sure where she wants to go or what she wants to do. I made a point of telling her that I think its a step in the right direction that she knows what state she wants to go to. She seemed slightly overwhelmed with all the choices she was going to have to make so I tried to be mindful of that and make sure that I let her know to take a few breaths, that she had plenty of time to make these decisions. They don't need to be made right this second. She told me that she is the type of person to lose things easily. She was really concerned about making the "right" choice. What if she went to one school but changed her mind on her major and then the school she was at didn't have the new choice? I felt then that I needed to give her a tool to use. I told her she should try to make a list of all the different majors she thinks she might be interested in, then when she is looking at her different school choices, she can mark off whether each school has some, all, or none of those choices. This way she can be sure that she is picking a place where she is not just stuck in one track. She smiled and said that she hadn't thought of doing that and that it was a really good idea.

After she left my office, I felt really good about how things had gone. I realized though while I was counseling her that I was still in my head a lot during the session. I kept thinking about if I was saying the right thing, if I was talking too much, thinking a lot about what I should say next. I think that this is just because of inexperience. I know that with time, that will hopefully fade out and I can be completely in the moment. I hope that this student didn't realize that this is what I was thinking. That is the last thing that I want. But she seemed satisfied with our conversation. I hope she was.

I hope that in the coming weeks I will be able to do more counseling with her as well as other students. I need a lot more practice before I would call myself fully competent. That is what internship is all about though right?!

Happy Friday!


September 13, 2011

Operation BEA-U-TIFUL

Hey everyone!
I found out about this wonderful website from a friend's page on facebook. She had posted a picture that she had taken in the bathroom of the store she was recently at. I was so inspired that I finally looked up the website because I couldn't believe what I had seen. My first thought, to be honest with you, was, "Uh oh, we have another Aunt Jeanette on our hands!" Now I should probably explain what that thought means before I progress any further.
My grandma June's twin sister's name is Jeanette. When I say they are twins I mean it. When I was little I thought they were both grandma because I couldn't tell them apart. My Aunt Jeanette makes these bookmarks out of old greeting cards and then tapes bible verses to them. She leaves them EVERYWHERE!! When I was in high school, I was in Iowa for a family wedding. We were in the restaurant for the rehearsal dinner, and I went to the bathroom before going to sit down. I found a bookmark, which is how I knew that my Aunt Jeanette was there. Needless to say, in high school I found this rather mortifying. But now as I grow older, while I still find this a little weird, I can see how this can be a really great idea.

Then I stumbled upon this picture and this website. It seems like kind of a duh moment. How easy is it really to make someones day? How easy is it to boost someones self esteem? And Operation Beautiful does it with one single post-it. How easy is it to carry a small thing of post-its and a pen in your purse, especially for those of us that carry huge purses?! I think that I am going to start this trend in my neck of the woods. I also plan on sharing this with the girls groups that are being started at my internship site. It is such an easy thing to do that can make a difference in the life of a stranger.

Thought everyone could use something to brighten their day!


September 9, 2011

9/11 Anniversary

Why do I feel as though everyone is going to write a blog about this? To answer my own question, because its probably true. I am not really sure where to begin this post because all my thoughts on this being the 10 year anniversary are rather conjumbled in my head.

I work at a before and after care program in addition to going to school and interning. With the anniversary fast approaching, it got me thinking about how most of the kids that I work with there were only 1ish when 9/11/01 happened. Even as I sat at internship today, most of the kids that I saw walk through the office were only 5-8. I started thinking about how I would want to talk to the kids about what happened. Odds are they were not old enough to remember (and in the case of my morning kids at my paying job, not even born yet). It was such a powerful event in my life and the lives of all my peers, that I don't know if I can accurately describe to them what happened without getting emotional myself. I suppose its the same for the generations that came before me. Pearl Harbor, Challenger explosion, Vietnam, JFK assassination, and many more. How did these people accurately teach us about what happened to them?

I am a firm believer in that narratives can be a very powerful learning tool. I know that many of the things that I remember from school and from life come from hearing someones story. I recently wrote a post about New Orleans. I was forever changed by that city in part because of all the stories people were so willing to share with me while I was down there. So powerful!

I guess like many people, I can recall exactly where I was standing when I first heard about 9/11/01. I was by the freshman hallway bathroom on my to my second period class, biology. I heard some upper class men talking about how a plane had just crashed into the world trade towers in NYC. I had no idea what the world trade towers were as a freshman in high school. Once I figured out what was going on, I was really scared. I remember the t.v.'s were on in almost every classroom those first few days, at home as well. We were all glued to the news. They even brought in t.v.s to the lunchroom so that we could watch then too. Later I found out that my mother almost came and got me from school because there was just so much unknown at that time. I had a friend that I was in colorguard with whose dad was traveling in the area of New York at the time. I remember so vividly the look of shear panic on her face as we entered the band room that day because she had no idea if her dad was on one of those planes. Luckily, she got a message during school that day that her dad was okay.

Okay so whats the take away in all of this? 9/11/01 was a tragic day in the history of the U.S. I think it was so profound because the safety we often take for granted was disrupted. We no longer felt all powerful and that was scary for many Americans. At the same time, I think 9/11 taught us a very valuable lesson. It brought us closer together. It taught us not to take our safety for granted. It taught us to love each other. It gave us sympathy and empathy for one another. It brought our nation together. I think this is the lesson that the kids need to be learning. From the young ones I hear a lot, "Well the Muslims did it, shouldn't we just get them back." The kids need to be taught that out of this tragic event comes things that are positive.

I think we as Americans should start claiming back 9/11. Now don't get me wrong here, I am not saying that we shouldn't commemorate the anniversary of this tragic event. But we should claim it to be a happy day. Do we put our lives on hold every time December 7th rolls around. I have heard of a couple that is having their wedding day on 9/11 this year. They want to reclaim the day as a happy time for their friends and family. I thought that this was a brilliant idea. So this 9/11, we should take some time to pay respects for that day. I challenge you then to do something fun with your day. Take time to do something that makes you smile. Take back 9/11.

Have a good weekend everybody.


P.S. ASCA (American School Counselor Association) has put up a great list of 9/11 resources for family and people in education. If you want to look at those, here is the link.

September 4, 2011

NOLA, the love of my life.

Two posts in one night, this is going to get crazy. Can you tell I am procrastinating reading? If you read my last post, you know that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, so I thought I would talk about something that I really love. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA! I know you are thinking, wait a second, the city with all night partying amongst other wild and crazy things. Well yes that city, but that's not the part of the city that made me fall in love.

Seeing as its been 6 years since Katrina hit New Orleans, its only fitting that I talk about my love affair for this city, since Katrina is part of the reason that I fell in love in the first place. I love to volunteer! I have been volunteering since sixth grade and I don't think I will ever stop. I want to start a group to volunteer somewhere in the cities before the next ASCA conference, but that's another post entirely.

In January of my freshman year of college, I went with a group from the ELCA down to NOLA to help with Katrina clean up. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I met so many amazing people down there. The first year I was there, I cleaned the upstairs of one of the leaders parents house. Did you follow that? The downstairs of the house had already been gutted but the upstairs had not. We went through closets, pulled up carpet, got rid of clothes, books, family heirlooms. At one point, I just totally broke down. During that gut, we watched people dig through the pile of rubbish that we were accumulating. I cant imagine being desperate enough to have to dig through moldy crap to grab a couple of moldy shirts and pillows. And yet they smelled like booze and had cigarettes in their mouths. Some things I just wont ever understand. It was such a moving experience for me. That same trip I got to scrub the X off of a house we were cleaning and painting. They had been gutted and were getting ready to move back. That was amazing because I knew it was going to help these people heal and move on.

I have meet so many amazing people from New Orleans. Their strong faith is amazing to me. Many of them didnt let Katrina get the best of them. I heard so many fascinating stories, many that moved me to tears. I saw things that people should never have to see. Being down there for two years in a row, really taught me to live each moment of life. I shouldn't let things such as school work get me down. I really should appreciate every moment I am given. The city of New Orleans gushes out hope. They are rebuilding and things are really turning back to normal. I have watched to progression and have been amazed by what I have seen. It will really, truely be done when there is not one house left with an awful X left on it!

I am going to include some pictures so you have an idea of what I saw. If you ever want to know more about the trip that I went on just ask, I have plenty of stories that I can share, too many to write down here!


This house is one we saw over a year after Katrina hit. It hadnt even been touched!!

Scrubbing the X off of a house. Finally these people can officially start their lives over!

How did those stay there while everything else got swept away?

Gotta stay safe! No matter how ridiculous you look!

The pile that we gathered. This is from the second floor only!

Had to add one of me! It was serious business, but we still managed to have fun getting ready.

This deserves some explanation. We were on a mission trip through church. We were pulling off floorboards so we could rip up carpet. As we pulled them off, we were throwing them over the ledge to the first floor where someone would haul them outside. These landed this way, not only did they land this way, the stuck together. Talk about a powerful moment!

The X.

To explain the X for those who do not know. The top is the date that this house was checked, to the left is who checked it, bottom is if there were any people found inside, and to right is if there was anything else found (pets, ammunition, etc.). There are often more than one X because there were different units that checked houses multiple times.

Our ending pile.

It blows my mind that water and wind did that!

Overwhelmed is an understatement...

This last week was my first week of classes in the evenings. I went into the week thinking it would be a breeze. We only have three classes this semester as opposed to five last fall. Boy was I wrong!

The first class that I have is research methods. It wont be bad because despite the amount of papers. Two of them are with a partner. The head of the department is also teaching this class so at least he is knowledgeable and I know I will learn something despite taking at least two other research method classes in my college career.

My second class is group counseling. I am really looking forward to this class. It is being taught by the "new guy" in the department. He is young and you can tell he LOVES running groups. There is some work in this class but I know I will be able to put to work what I learn in class right away. I like that!

My internship class...this is the one I am really overwhelmed by. I guess I didn't realize how much work this was going to entail. I mean there are soo many things that we have to do. 6 lesson plans, 10 reading critiques, a whole bunch of paper work. I am so stressed about this. I think that part of the reason that I am so stressed and overwhelmed by this is because its all so unorganized right now. Those who know me, know how organized I like to be with my work. Now looking at my room, you would have no idea I like to be organized, but that's my clothes not my work. Right now, I don't feel like I have all my assignments organized in my head and in my binder/planner. I think once I do that, I will feel a bit better about it. I am just so fearful that I am going to miss something and not be able to get my degree. I know it seems irrational but it comes from a place of legitimacy.

Is anyone else feeling this way? Am I way off base here? Is it too much to hope that I blink and its May and I have everything done?


September 1, 2011

First Week of Internship

So I am already into my second week of internship! Its hard to believe because it is going by so fast. I am a private Catholic high school. Its a fairly small school as far as high school's are concerned. So far I haven't been doing too much actual counseling but I have gotten to observe a lot and we are starting a few small groups. I have gotten to witness a few interviews for transfer students. It felt good to be able to make some face to name recognitions when I saw them around the next day. There is one student in particular who I am trying to make sure that I say hi to every time I see her in the hallway.

I don't have too much to say for this post although I am sure that there will be more to say once we actually get past schedule changing. :-)

I do want to share a link with you. There is a fantastic school counseling website that I have come across. From now through the 10th of September, she is doing give-aways of fabulous school counseling stuff. All you have to do is leave a relevant comment about how you would use said item. She then picks one person randomly to win the give away. Its a great way to start/keep building your toolbox, plus she has some great ideas for school counselors with all levels of experience. So check it out and maybe you can win some cool stuff!!

Have a good day.