The Milford School District has led a successful effort in demonstrating the importance that school counselors have on the future success of students. Led by Stephanie LoBiondo, school counselor at Milford Senior High School, the profession has made a real impact in the Milford School District; moving away from a reactionary model of discipline to a proactive approach of steering kids in the direction of success.
As North Atlantic Regional Vice President of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), Mrs. LoBiondo has been able to help create a set of standards for students that is data driven. These standards focus on student academics, personal and social interactions and career development. Instead of talking with kids after they develop a problem in these areas the data driven standards incorporate feedback from teachers regarding the needs of their students. These needs can then be managed to assist multiple children and not just one individual.
“The old model was focused on the ‘frequent flyers’ to the counselor’s office,” commented Mrs. LoBiondo. “It was a very reactionary approach. Now access to resources are open to all kids whether it be a student success plan, career and college preperation, taking notes or the dangers of using social media.”
The restructuring of the entire counseling model has earned Stephanie an impressive resume including School Counseling Department Director for 12 years, 2004 Delaware High School Counselor of the Year and 2010 Milford School District Counselor of the Year. She is also the first person in the state of Delaware to run for North Atlantic Regional Vice President for the American School Counselor Association, a position which she currently holds.
Stephanie has been instrumental in pushing for new regulations for school counselors with the Department of Education. These new regulations require counselors to have a certified master’s degree and schools to allocate funding for counselors in grades K-12; not just grades 6-12 as previously stated. Through her help the ASCA has also designed career modeling specific to counselors which creates a streamlined, data driven program for counselors to follow.
“Think of the greater impact school counselors could have if there is more of us,” stated Mrs. LoBiondo. Before we pushed for funding for counselors in grades K-12 there was minimal support for kids in the elementary schools. Help with academics and personal interaction through counselors needs to begin at an early age. I say emphasize more on school counselors instead of a Dean of Discipline.”
Moving forward, Milford School District plans to implement more than one counselor per building, as is currently the case. By decreasing the ratio of counselors to students the district aims to decrease dropout rates and increase graduation rates.
“We leave the academic teaching to the teachers but the counselors really help the students to realize their goals in life and put it into their own words,” stated Mrs. LoBiondo. “Once they can visualize the exact steps it will take to reach their goal it makes passing a class or taking a test more important to them. They can see how everyday decisions will effect what the want to do in life.”