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Guidance counselors conference

Sharing ‘the power’ of the profession

New York Teacher
Jonathan Fickies

Playing instruments during the Music Matters workshop are (from left) Annette Rivera Cintron of PS 151 in Brooklyn; Cameala Comrie, a counselor in training at Brooklyn College; Alison Cochamiro of PS 199 in Queens; and Velarie Radetzky of PS 290 in Manhattan.

More than 230 guidance

Jonathan Fickies

Guidance Counselors Chapter Leader Rosemarie Thompson chats with members during a break in the conference.

counselors got some guidance of their own — on everything from how to use Pinterest for finding classroom resources to how best to work with diverse student bodies — at the UFT Guidance Counselor Chapter’s 11th annual conference at union headquarters on March 14.

Jonathan Fickies

Michelle Regis Jones, a counselor in training at PS/IS 66 in Brooklyn, asks a question during a workshop on suicide prevention and intervention.

In his welcoming remarks, UFT President Michael Mulgrew confided that he would have quit during his first years as a teacher if not for the support of his school’s guidance counselors.

“As a teacher, I would not have stayed in the profession if I didn’t have guidance counselors working with me,” Mulgrew said. “That’s how and why I learned the power of the guidance counselor almost immediately.”

Mulgrew also applauded the Department of Education representatives present for hiring 250 more guidance counselors this school year, but called on them to hire even more. That’s one reason we’re fighting for more funding in Albany, he said.

Guidance Counselors Chapter Leader Rosemarie Thompson reflected on the longevity of the conference.

“I can’t believe we’re actually in our 11th year,” she said. “From the very beginning, when we started this conference, we wanted to give professional development for guidance counselors and that’s what we’ve done.”

Indeed, the daylong conference packed in workshops on everything from college and career readiness for teenagers to social and emotional learning for young children. Dr. Carolyn Stone, a professor of counselor education at the University of North Florida, gave the keynote speech on legal and ethical issues facing the profession.

Jonathan Fickies

Attendees pick up games and other materials at the Guidance Group table in the exhibit hall.

Marissa Kropp, a first-year counselor at the Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology in the Bronx, said a workshop on the developmental changes associated with adolescence would make her rethink her interactions with students.

“I’ll be more patient with my students, understanding that they’re at a different developmental point and don’t always have the proper coping mechanisms or skills,” Kropp said.

Also in her first year, Sunny Suh, from the HS of American Studies at Lehman College in the Bronx, said the workshop on ethics and law given by keynote speaker Dr. Stone was packed with useful information.

“The important message is that if you have to make a decision about what to do legally or ethically, you’re always going to have to go with the legal option but as a counselor you’ll always do your best to be as ethical as possible, too,” Suh said.

Fabiola Rodriguez, a counselor at IS 339 in the South Bronx, explained why she returns each year for the Guidance Counselor Conference.

“We don’t have the opportunity to network with other guidance counselors,” she said.

Susan Carr-Lagomorsini, from MS 390 in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx, said she puts to good use the exchange of ideas with colleagues and experts.

“I come to the conference because I am interested in addressing issues like bullying and social-emotional development,” she said. “I like to see how other counselors are tackling them and whether we’re on the right track at my school.”

For veteran counselor Anne Hendricks, from Brooklyn’s PS 251, the conference workshops offer the chance to learn something new.

“It helps me because when I come together with other guidance counselors for the workshops I feel that I am up to speed with what’s happening as a counselor,” Hendricks said.

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