Counselor Connection - Feb. 20, 2019

Counselor Connection

From the desk of Damien Sweeney, Ed.D.

Happy Black History Month!

Dear Counselors,

Our country has come so far in helping to recognize the rights of African Americans. African American students deserve to know and understand that history and the richness of their culture. Are there ways you can celebrate this population at your school?

As counselors, how can we help focus on this group? When I present throughout Kentucky, I often reference equity. Are our counseling practices equitable? Are there cracks in our school that don’t allow full access to our most advanced opportunities in our schools to students of all races, genders and incomes?

I was in a school last week in which educators really started looking at the data. It wasn’t just the leadership team looking either. Every teacher in that building had an opportunity to look at data broken down by different student groups. When they saw inequities for their African American students and other traditionally marginalized groups, they created new opportunities that ensured access to a program that they are renowned for without regard for the optics. Their entire staff bought into the plan. Looking for cracks in processes in order to expand access may be something that you consider in making sure that all students are valued.

Celebrate your African American students! They deserve to know that we value them, respect them and support them.  

Here are some resources that you may use to teach Black History. They are from “Teach Rock.” Check out these great lessons here! Check out this article to see how you can get your community involved in supporting African American students.

KDE Elementary Bullying & Resilience Lessons

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is offering lessons on bullying prevention and resilience to elementary school educators throughout the Commonwealth.

While the vision of the agency is that each and every student becomes empowered and equipped to pursue a successful future, we want to make sure that every student in Kentucky also feels safe. The agency acknowledges that many students have endured trauma in many ways – including bullying – and wants to help teach students ways to get help and overcome the difficulties that have and will occur in their lives.

These exemplars serve as a first step in helping Kentucky educators address bullying and resilience at the elementary level. We hope to inspire you, your school and your district to continue these needed conversations so that all of our children feel safe.

As a reminder, the target grades for these lessons are grades 3-5.

In the resources section, one of our counselors suggests a tip line for bullying. If schools or districts create their own tip lines, please include a disclaimer that the tips are not monitored 24/7. Also add the following: If you are in crisis and need immediate help, please call_____, or seek help immediately by _______.

Elementary Bullying Prevention Video

Elementary Resilience Video

Download the slide decks for both lessons. Resources for educators at the end.

Thank you to the counselors and other educators who offered feedback throughout the process of making this lesson.

Social and Emotional Learning - Yoga!


Social and emotional learning has many positive impacts on kids. Yoga helps bridge a connection between the mind and body and it helps students learn how to self-regulate mentally and physically. It also helps students build social and emotional competencies. According to (2012), “Overall, it has been shown by scientific researchers that yoga and mindfulness practices, made developmentally appropriate for use with children of various ages, address the whole child, thus maximizing the academic, social and emotional development in educational settings”. Read the following testimonials from two of our counselors in Kentucky about how they implement yoga in their schools.

“I start every lesson with a few minutes to ‘let our minds settle’ and the kids love it. I use yoga with all my 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-graders. They can go from rowdy or disengaged to focused within a few seconds. I'll go ahead and start even if some are still milling around, but as soon as they see others begin, they immediately join in. Students who struggle with staying focused are often the ones who enjoy this the most. Students learn that they can control their bodies when they control their movement and breathing and that transfers over to controlling our thoughts as well. It only takes about 5 minutes, and the time I save on redirecting behaviors far outweighs the time we use to do yoga. It helps the kids and it helps me!”

– Linda Tyree,
Morgantown Elementary counselor (Butler County),
Kentucky School Counselor Association president

“One of the focuses for our program at Meadow View is to teach our students a variety of ways to incorporate social-emotional learning into their everyday lives. Yoga fits right into that goal. The children use a variety of simple, easy poses as they learn to be present and focus on their bodies. We also practice a variety of breathing strategies during each lesson.”

– Susan Dyer Brown, Meadow View Elementary School counselor (Hardin County)

In Brief ...

Dual Credit – Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS)

KCTCS is working to improve its systems for dual credit. Together, we hope to improve the communication and processes for you. Please click here to learn about KCTCS’ admission policy for dual credit.

Graduation Requirements Update

Take a look at this article from Kentucky Teacher to learn about where the new graduation requirements are in the process of being adopted.

Course Codes

The Course Codes Changes for 2019-2020 are now available on the Kentucky Uniform Academic Course Codes webpage. An updated Deprecated Course Codes and What to Use Instead spreadsheet also is available for your convenience. If you have any questions about this year's changes, please don't hesitate to ask.

KDE also will be releasing a new Searchable Course Codes Database soon. This database will take the place of the State Course Code Lists usually published on an annual basis; as a result there will be no updated lists for 2019-2020. Information about the release of the database – which will include the launch date, the date and time of a launch webinar, a tutorial video and an updated section of the Course Codes FAQ regarding the Searchable Database – will be communicated within the next few weeks.

Questions can be directed to

Teen Depression Webinar Mar. 21

Families for Depression Awareness is presenting a free “Understanding Teen Depression” webinar 7-8:15 p.m. ET March 21. Presenter Rebekah Gibbons will provide an overview of teen depression. The webinar also will cover communication strategies for teens and parents, treatment options, where to get help and what to do if help is refused.

The program is designed for parents, guardians, caregivers, youth workers and any adults interested in teen mental health. If you are worried about a teen, new to the topic, proactively seeking education or in need of a refresher on teen depression, this webinar is for you. Visit the Families for Depression Awareness website to register.

Self-Care Tip: Conferences

We can’t keep taking care of everyone else without taking care of ourselves. Head to a conference that will allow you to get out, learn from others and grow. Learning and growing is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and ultimately, for our students. I hope to see you at the following conferences:

This week: Kentucky School Counselor Association Conference

Registration is now open for the 2019 Career and Technical Education Summer Program. The conference will be held at the Galt House Hotel and Suites, Louisville, July 23-26.

Based on a first-come, first-served basis, school counselors who register will get reimbursed! The Office and Career and Technical Education will reimburse the districts (please do not pay as individuals) for counselors who are eligible for this free registration. You can register online at this link.

The conference provides outstanding professional development opportunities for all career and technical education disciplines with program updates and content-specific sessions. There also is specific programming designed for school administrators and school counselors. The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority will talk about its scholarships. A representative from Kentucky Community and Technical College Systems will speak about its dual credit opportunities, while the College Board will speak about the connection between Advanced Placement and Career and Technical Education (among other sessions).

The CTE Summer Program is organized by the Kentucky Association for Career and Technical Education (KACTE) with planning assistance from the KDE Office of Career and Technical Education and Student Transitions and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

Laymon Hicks will deliver the keynote address on Wednesday morning, July 24, at the Opening Session. His doctoral research focused on building relationships, and he will use a high-energy, interactive, tell-it-like-it-is style to entertain, educate and motivate.

For more information, please contact KACTE Coordinator Kris Stone at (502) 223-1823.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2019 Career and Technical Education Summer Program in July!

Feb. 20, 2019


I started the previous section by speaking about how far our country has come in valuing African Americans. There is still a long way to go. The next track on our mixtape speaks to this. As you listen, think about the progress of African Americans throughout our history. This song reminds us that we can overcome injustices and find peace together.

“Glory” by John Legend Ft. Common

Shout Out!

Thank you to the following organizations for hosting or meeting with me during the past two weeks:

College Board

Department of Behavioral Health

Frankfort Independent Schools

Hardin County Public Schools

Kentucky Community and Technical College System

Kentucky Educational Development Corporation (Ashland)

Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority

*Thanks again to Dr. Lewis for this message to our school counselors!


Kentucky School Counselor Association Conference (Feb. 20-22)

Gatton Academy Interview Day (Feb. 23)

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (Feb. 28)

Educator Rising Conference (March 5-6)

Upper Cumberlands Counselor Association (March 8th)