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Harvard EdCast: Redefining School Counseling

By Jill Anderson on April 10, 2019 12:27 PM
Mandy Savitz-Romer talks about the misconceptions around school counselors, and shares how she reimagines this vital role in schools.

Mandy Savitz-RomerSenior Lecturer Mandy Savitz-Romer believes new day has come in school counseling. As more students face issues of school violence, gender identity, and increasing anxiety, Savitz-Romer sees school counselors as a natural resource for students experiencing these challenges. But first, it’s going to require a reimagining of the school counselor’s role.

In her new book, Fulfilling The Promise: Reimagining School Counseling to Advance Student Success, Savitz-Romer explores what it’s going to take to reinvent the field. While she acknowledges the fact that schools need far more counselors — the highest ratio consists of one counselor to almost 900 students —  Savitz-Romer says that solving that problem will only go so far. Administrators need to better define the scope of the work of these professionals and, more important, clearly communicate the role of the counselors to the school community.

“Just putting more counselors in an outdated model is problematic for kids. We need to reimagine school counseling not as a numbers problem but a framing problem," she says. "What do we want them to do? Do we see them as therapists? Do we want them only doing social and emotional mental health work? Academic supporters or are they college planners? The truth is I see them sitting at the nexus of all three. Students don’t have academic problems in one room, and personal friendship issues in another room, family troubles in another room, and then think about their future somewhere else. It’s all connected to who they are in schools.”

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Savitz-Romer speaks about the misconceptions around school counseling, and shares how finding inspiration in healthcare models could help to redefine this vital role in schools.

About the Harvard EdCast

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly podcast featuring brief conversations with education leaders and innovative thinkers from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Jill Anderson, the EdCast is a dynamic space for discourse about problems and transformative solutions in education, shining a light on the compelling people, policies, practices, and ideas shaping the field. Find the EdCast on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher