National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a future goal. February 6-10 recognizes the tireless effort of school counselors with the 2023 theme, Helping Students Dream Big.

The Evolution of Student Support

School counseling as we know it today was first established in the early 1900s. The role evolved from guiding students to choose a vocation to encompass far more as studies in student mental health, psychology and child development began to emerge. The 1940s and 1950s saw the expansion of counseling programs in schools and led to the establishment of the American School Counselor Association in 1952. It wasn’t until the 1960s that school counseling took root in elementary schools, and a comprehensive programmatic approach began to take shape. The early twenty-first century evolved the field of school counseling to become more data oriented as methodology for identifying school concerns and student needs became available.

School Counselors – Supporting Heart and Mind

School counselors are licensed and certified educators who improve student success through the implementation of comprehensive programs. Counselors help students apply academic achievement strategies, learn how to manage emotions and apply interpersonal skills, as well as plan for post-secondary options. In addition, they provide referrals, collaborate with teachers, administrators and families for student support, analyze data to identify student needs, and improve equity and access to achievement and opportunities for all students.

In the Bellevue School District, counseling is an integral part of students’ daily educational environment, and school counselors are partners in student achievement. School counselors focus their skills, time and energy on direct and indirect services to students. Direct services include both academic and career services and personal or social supports. Indirect services include support for individual learning plans and consultation with professionals within and outside school buildings. BSD counseling teams value and respond to the diversity and individual differences within our learning communities.

The Bellevue School District welcomed several new members to the counseling team for the 2022-2023 year. New counselors to BSD include Tim Gager (BHS), Lauren Summers (BHS), Alyssa Flaherty (Interlake), Elizabeth Galvan (Interlake), Sierra Suh (Newport), Amy Stephens (Big Picture), Alaa AL Harab (Odle) and, Sam Glinsmann (Chinook). In addition, the following counselors have changed supports to a new school level: Gerardo Martinez — from middle to high school (Sammamish), Jaime Hoener – from high to middle school (Tyee), and Bobijo Hatch—from middle school to Digital Discovery 6-12.

Counseling Resources and Opportunities

BSD counselors invite students and their families to attend the 2023 College Conference. This year’s event will feature a pre-conference event on Tuesday, February 7, and the main event on Wednesday, February 8. The BSD Virtual College Conference is highly recommended for juniors and their families, but it is a great opportunity for ALL high school families to learn from professionals and knowledgeable BSD staff about applying for college.

Mental health supports and resources for students and families are available through the district counseling page. View the family wellness forums webpage to hear from BSD counselors, social-emotional learning curriculum developers and community partners as they answer questions around emotional wellness, screen time, family stress and other topics of community interest.

Student Well-Being: Annual Plan Progress Report

Part of the BSD’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, student well-being is a critical element to our learning community. With this strategic priority, the district has committed to supporting the emotional physical well-being of all students by affirming students’ sense of identity and belonging.

At the January 26 school board meeting, district staff shared an update on student well-being across the district, outlining mid-year progress and next steps. The report showed marked improvements at all levels (elementary, middle and high), in all student well-being metrics, which include the following priorities:

  • Belonging: Increase percentage of students reporting a sense of belonging with a reduction in disproportionality between subgroups and all students.
  • Social-Emotional Learning: Increase social‐emotional development in grades 3‐12.
  •  Mental Health: Increase coping skills for students identified with specific needs.

Of the progress, Executive Director of Schools 6-12, Patty Siegwarth, Ed.D., remarked:

“We have deep appreciation for our staff. They have embraced and prioritized student well-being over time, leaning heavily into this work. We have immense gratitude for the collaboration with and the engagement of so many community partners and our families in this work. We united for a common purpose. And a special thank you to our students who have led this work through their voices, their advocacy, and their actions, which have guided our strategies, resource allocations, decisions and actions.”

Access the full report by watching the presentation as shared by BSD staff or viewing the presentation slides.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.