They’re listening ears, problem solvers, and links to the future for high school students. They’re the guidance counselors of Aroostook County. And together with directors of college admissions, upward bound, and other programs, they become the Northern Maine Counseling Association — and they meet every other month.
Mary Warren, President of the NMCA says, “if we’re going to be sending students on to college, we had better know what we’re talking about..so it’s one thing to read about it and certainly we get all their information but its certainly another to sit down and coordinate with them to best serve our students.”
The meetings allow the counselors learn about new programs at area colleges, get updates from admissions directors, and make future connections for high school students. This group is the largest branch of the Maine Counseling Association — which has existed for almost 50 years.
“Of all the regions in the state we seem to have the most close knit group, and I think that’s part of it, we lean on each other which is pretty neat,” says Marty Gallant, Guidance Director at Caribou High School.
On the agenda Thursday — an informal round table discussion on the transition to standards based proficiency learning in high schools. Proficiency learning puts an emphasis on students mastering all content areas before moving on to the next. According to the Department of Education, “time is the variable.” Warren says the changes will really take effect this fall for incoming freshmen, and though every school district will be different, it’s good to bounce ideas off one another.
“What is your school district doing and how far along have you come and where do you see this? It’s really more of a sharing,” says Warren.
“Especially when it’s something so new, and the state still hasn’t given us a whole lot of direction yet on which way to go with it, so we need to learn from each other,” says Gallant.
He says though they’re all learning together, he hopes there will be upcoming trainings for guidance counselors on this proficiency based learning so they can best help the students.