Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselor Educators as Educational Leaders Promoting Systemic Change

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselor Educators as Educational Leaders Promoting Systemic Change

Article excerpt

If the full impact of the transformation of the school counseling profession is to be enacted, it is incumbent upon school counselor educators to model the same skills and professional mindset that are expected of practicing school counselors. Specifically, school counselor educators can serve as leaders within their educational communities in order to promote systemic change that will remove barriers to student success. The notion of school counselor educators as educational leaders represents a philosophical and behavioral congruence that churns the professional ecosystem, from the professor to the practitioner to the P-12 student. This article outlines the role that school counselor educators can play in modeling leadership and other essential skills for the profession.


This article is collaboration among the three authors on several levels. It should be noted that the three authors have a special bond: We represent a professional lineage. Specifically, Pamela Paisley served as George McMahon's major professor, who in turn served as Erin Mason's major professor. These relationships were not strictly hierarchical, however, as each of the three has influenced the other two in several ways. Although the idea for this article grew from discussions between the first two authors (McMahon and Mason) as they developed a master's level class on leadership and advocacy, the authors were very aware that the ideas were inspired from the lessons and modeling of the third author (Paisley). As McMahon and Mason began to write, they realized they needed Paisley's voice to ground the article and provide a "lived experience" of the subject. What follows are the professional reflections of a true leader in the fields of school counseling and education, designated by italics, interwoven into the body of the article describing a vision of school counselor educator leadership, a vision that is grounded in the experience of our mentors and role models.


   I was a school teacher for 3 years, a school counselor
   for 7, and have been a counselor educator
   for 22 years. I am fascinated by the changes I
   have seen occur in the school counseling specialty,
   and I support the ongoing dialogue regarding
   school counselor role to improve educational
   experiences and outcomes for all children. As a
   principal investigator on one of the six
   Transforming School Counseling grants, I have
   had my beliefs challenged and had to confront
   the ways in which my own privilege shaped my
   views and my behaviors. I was involved in significant
   curricular and programmatic reform
   as part of this initiative. I continue exploring
   these challenges 10 years later, growing as a professional
   and as a person committed to principles
   of social justice. I always feel that I am "in the
   process of becoming" a social justice advocate
   and an educational leader.

School counseling has a long and proud history, and the story of professional school counseling, its influences, and major players are key components of the collective professional identity that unites all those within school counseling. Paisley and Borders (1995) described school counseling as continually evolving to meet the economic, educational, and political needs of the community. Like evolution elsewhere in nature (Capra, 1996), the evolution of professional school counseling seems to have been marked by dramatic shifts rather than slow, steady change. The turn of the century provided the latest of these dramatic shit's, when the profession came together in landmark efforts to articulate a unified philosophy and mission for professional school counseling (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2005, 2008). Through these efforts and ongoing professional dialogue, school counselors, counselor educators, and others intimately involved with school counseling have begun to revise the story of who we are as school counselors (Lewis & Borunda, 2006). …

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