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Support the Counselors Who Support Your Schools

In Michigan, school counselors are on the frontlines in supporting students with their academic, career, social, and emotional needs. Counselors wear many hats. They help students realize their strengths and interests, even encouraging them to pursue career paths based on those elements. Even though most are not licensed therapists, counselors are often the first adults to intervene in a mental health crisis. The responsibilities of school counselors are complex. Counselors play a vital role in ensuring students are successful in high school and beyond.

As essential as school counselors are, there are too few counselors per student in Michigan, according to national and local advocacy organizations. The student to counselor ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association is 250:1; yet Michigan has a ratio of 638:1, third only to Arizona and Illinois, according to data from the 2020-21 school year.

February 6-10 is National School Counseling Week 2023. School Counselors are so important to students’ overall success in life that they have their own focused week to acknowledge their unique contributions within U.S. school systems. Yet, the average school counselor in Michigan doesn’t have the time, resources, or support to successfully create a culture of career development in schools. With almost triple the number of students to counselors that are recommended, how are school counselors in Michigan able to truly make an impact on students’ lives?

That’s where Youth Solutions can provide much needed support. Youth Solutions’ new service line, YS Select, utilizes a 5-phase collaborative approach that aims to create a culture of career development in schools. Through this process, students understand the connection between core classes and careers, helping them stay engaged in education and set career goals for their future.

YS Select has a unique competitive advantage that can make a real impact that results in sustainable support and lasting outcomes. YS Select was designed by subject matter experts who collectively have over 37 years of experience in the education space. Our team of educators know the challenges and lack of resources school districts have to work with, firsthand.

Gretchen Panicucci, Manager of Innovative Services for Youth Solutions and one of the developers of YS Select, has a Master of Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education. She is a Licensed School Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor. Gretchen worked in public education for 16 years as a middle school and high school counselor as well as a middle school and high school principal.

“From my experience as a school counselor and administrator, I know firsthand how much school counselors are relied upon. They have an immense amount of duties and responsibilities and, unfortunately, some students fall through the cracks. Career and postsecondary planning often takes a back seat to more immediate academic and social and emotional needs,” expressed Gretchen.Working as a school counselor was the most rewarding and exhausting time in my career. Sometimes solving someone's problem was as simple as lending them a pencil, but other times the problem was so heavy it was difficult to fight back tears. I will cherish my time as a school counselor forever, as it's a time in my life where I can confidently say that I made a difference."

Simply put, counselors are the glue that keeps an overtasked system together. School counselors work hard to build solid relationships with all students, parents, and school personnel. They are trusted adults who can truly make a difference in the educational setting, yet they need more support to be successful.

For National School Counseling Week this year, don’t just thank a counselor. (Although you should do that too!) We want you to reach out to Youth Solutions to learn how YS Select can help prioritize career development in your school and support school counselors in making an even greater impact in their school community.

Share with us how a school counselor has made a difference in your life. Tag your counselor in your post to give them the recognition they deserve!


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