Counselor Connection

Counselor Connection

From the desk of Damien Sweeney, Ed.D.

Stomp Out Bullying

October is Bullying Prevention Month! Every October, schools and organizations across the country join STOMP Out Bullying™ in observing National Bullying Prevention Month.

The goal of the month is to encourage schools, communities and organizations to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying. The month was created to put an end to hatred and racism by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of all forms of bullying on all children of all ages. For ideas about bullying prevention activities you can implement during this month,visit the STOMP Out Bullying website.

Dr. Candice Johnson

Candice Johnson, KHEAA Senior Outreach Counselor

FAFSA Opens Today!

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid  (FAFSA) opens Oct. 1 and can open so many doors for your high school seniors.

For more information, watch this video on YouTube from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority's (KHEAA) very own Candice Johnson for tips. Need an outreach counselor to help you with your FAFSA event? Visit the KHEAA website to find contact information for your outreach counselor. Feel free to share this video with your families and communities!

ASCA Nat Model

Comprehensive School Counseling

In our first two editions of Counselor Connection, we spoke about creating an annual agreement with your administration so you can be aligned. We also spoke about creating a mission and vision statement for your comprehensive school counseling program.

As a reminder, Kentucky is moving toward comprehensive school counseling programs. There are so many of us doing so many different things and much of this is because our schools look so different throughout the Commonwealth.

I'm aware that many of us have overwhelming caseloads or may even travel to different schools each week. Regardless of your situation, a comprehensive school counseling program allows us to best help implement our priorities and help our students.

In this third edition, let's focus on data. As school counselors, we focus on attendance, behavior and course-passing data (ABC). We can pull this data from our school report cards or the Early Warning tool in Infinite Campus. Use the school counseling school data survey found within the ASCA templates and resources to identify opportunities to incorporate tier 1 or tier 2 interventions.

Speaking of data, the Kentucky Department of Education is interested in capturing data that will tell us how school counselors in Kentucky are spending their time. Each district superintendent must complete this survey (view only) per the School Safety and Resilience Act by Nov. 1. Please work toward a conversation with your superintendent so all school counselor voices in your district are heard. Remember that this is for your information only and not so you can complete the survey. There is one survey completed per district and this should be completed by your superintendent.                                                                            

too good for drugs

Too Good for Drugs Curriculum

The Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 3 in 2018, which mandates that each student in a Kentucky school receive annual, age-appropriate instruction in drug awareness and prevention beginning in 2019-2020 school year. 

The Too Good for Drugs curriculum is science-based, evidence-based and empowers students in all grades with the “social-emotional learning and substance abuse prevention skills they need to lead happy and healthy lives. More information about the Too Good for Drugs curriculum is available on its website.  

The Too Good for Drugs curriculum is designed for students in kindergarten through high school and ideally is implemented in every grade to have the most effect.  However, if that is not possible, schools are encouraged to look at transitional grades for possible implementation, while also considering the age of onset for use of alcohol, tobacco, nicotine and other drugs when deciding which grade levels in which to implement.  The curriculum consists of 10 lessons/sessions that are 30 minutes to one hour in length and should be conducted in a classroom setting with no more than 30 students. 

The Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Development and Intellectual Disabilities is able to provide both training and materials for schools who are interested at no charge (a value of approximately $2,500 when accounting for training, materials and technical assistance provided). However, there are certain expectations that would be required.

Participating schools will be expected to work with the regional prevention centers (RPC) to review their current policies related to substance use/misuse and suicide prevention and also participate in the curriculum evaluation process conducted by REACH of Louisville. This information will be discussed in detail and a letter of agreement must be signed prior to receiving training or materials for implementation. 

For more information about the curriculum, visit and complete this notice of interest.

Tips for Teens E-Cigarettes

Take a look at this resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in order to equip your teens with the facts about e-cigarettes. 

October 1, 2019


Consider ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors When Planning School Counseling Curriculum Lessons

When considering topics to teach during school counseling curriculum lessons (formerly known as guidance lessons), we should consider which American School Counseling Association Mindsets and Behaviors we want students to learn.

ASCA states, "The 35 mindset and behavior standards identify and prioritize the specific attitudes, knowledge and skills students should be able to demonstrate as a result of a school counseling program. School counselors use the standards to assess student growth and development, guide the development of strategies and activities and create a program that helps students achieve their highest potential."

Listen to "Stay for It" by RL Grime (ft. Miguel) and "Sometimes the Going Gets a Little Tough" by Finn from the perspective of one of your students needing your help. Your students may not show it on the outside and may even say things that are hurtful at the time, but on the inside, they are asking for you to learn who they are, help them overcome their obstacles and stay by their side through it all.

In terms of the ASCA Student Mindsets and Behaviors, if you were to use these songs in individual or small-group counseling, you'd be using Mindset 1: Belief in development of whole self, including a healthy balance of mental, social/emotional and physical well-being and Behavior SMS 6: Demonstrate ability to overcome barriers to learning.

2019-2020 End-of-Course (EOC) Exams for Early Graduation Pathway

The EOCs will be used again this year for students to meet Early Graduation Program requirements for students that have signed an early graduation intent form. However, this will be the final year for EOC exams.

Summative assessments will be used starting the 2020-2021 school year. Note: DACs should monitor EOC orders to ensure ordering aligns with student’s Individual Learning Plan.

Orders can be placed Oct. 2-Nov. 15. The ordering guidance document has been updated and posted to the EOC webpage on the KDE website. The directions on how to run the ad hoc ordering reports within Infinite Campus also will be included in the document.

As a reminder, there is a difference between a student who is an early graduate and one who graduates early.

The following are the EOC testing dates:

Test Window 1: Dec. 2-13

Test Window 2: Feb. 24-March 6, 2020

Test Window 3: April 20-May 1, 2020

Dual Credit Guidance Available in Latest Webinar

Check out KDE's latest webinar, which offers guidance on dual credit. Learn from Kiley Whitaker, Morgan Lovitt  and Damien Sweeney from the Kentucky Department of Education's Office of Career and Technical Education and Student Transition, and Harmony Little of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

New Minimum High School Graduation Requirements Webcast

Check out this webcast to stay in the loop about the new minimum high school graduation requirements.

Transition Readiness Webcast

Tale a look at this video to learn more about transition readiness and dual-credit partnerships.

The School Counselor's Role in Student Homelessness

In the 2018-2019 school year, there were 23,780 students identified as homeless. Take a look at this article to learn more about how school counselors can help our homeless students.

Kids' Chance of Kentucky Scholarship Opportunity

All young people have dreams, but sometimes those affected by a parent’s/guardian’s injury or death find it harder than others to make their dreams come true.

Founded in 2003 by a group of workers’ comp professionals, Kid's Chance of Kentucky is a tax exempt charitable organization devoted to providing scholarships to children of Kentucky workers who have been killed or suffered catastrophic injuries in work-related accidents.

thank you

Thank you to the following cooperatives, districts and schools that have hosted me over the past few weeks!

Boone County

Fayette County

Floyd County

James T. Alton Middle School (Hardin County)

Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative

Ohio Valley Education Cooperative

State Interagency Council

University of Louisville

Woodford County High School

self-care 3

Self-Care for Educators Video

Sanford Harmony hosted a webinar about self-care titled "Filling Your Cup: Comprehensive Self-Care Strategies for the Educator" last week. Take a look at the video and slides Please always remember that you are enough and you are doing the very best you can. Keep up the great work!