Excerpt: Growing Value at a Virtual School
Brandon Currie knows that limited face-to-face time with students is a drawback to working as a school counselor at a virtual school. But the manager of counseling services at Indiana Connections Academy also recognizes that communicating primarily via text or instant message has some major pluses. “There’s no limit on when you can speak to the students; you can contact them and have conversations really at any point in the day to make sure you’re meeting their needs,” he said. And with students in their own homes, he has found them more forthcoming in discussing issues. Founded in 2010, the school serves 3,600 students across the state in grades K-12, with seven school counselors.
Currie had worked on the RAMP application at his previous school. “It’s a great foundation for finding out the needs of the school while also advocating for students and the school counseling department,” he said. Advisory council meetings for Indiana Connections Academy’s program have educated staff and administrators about what school counselors do on a daily basis. Now the school staff collaborates to address the needs of the school and has empathy toward the school counseling program.
His first objective in beginning a comprehensive school counseling program at the new school was to focus on postsecondary options for students. “Students come in as freshmen and don’t really understand what a credit is, how you get it or how it affects you or your GPA,” he said. His administrators now understand the urgency of adding more career and technical opportunities and electives to help prepare students. The school counselors are developing partnerships with local colleges and looking to create dual-credit options, internships and job shadowing.
This article was published in ASCA School Counselor, Sept-Oct 2015.