Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome speech to EMC Counselors

[Remarks from Skretta to EMC Counselors conference hosted at Norris April 16th]

Welcome to Norris! We have a beautiful campus here and we are glad to have the opportunity to host you. Thanks for coming.

As counselors, I want to express my gratitude to each of you for the way in which you allow us to stretch your capacity! Administrators are demanding of our counselors and you respond well. Curt and Becky have been phenomenal examples of that here at Norris. I know it’s a truism in education, but it does seem that we never ask anyone to do less and there is no group that is truer of than counselors, because you are in that ideal middle realm….administrators delegate to you, teachers complain to you, and you get to figure it all out so it works! It is another truism that “Adminstrators Decide, Counselors Do.” I know that’s playing out right now in our scheduling process. When it comes to the specifics: thanks for figuring it out!

It just becomes more challenging for counselors, so thanks for your responsiveness. We used to strive at the junior level to have kids plan and plot out what they were shooting for in college and careers. Then we said two years really wasn’t good enough. So we went to four. Now the movement is 6 years. That’s because, I don’t know if you knew this, but apparently India and China are cranking out science and math and engineering graduate students at a rate exponentially higher than the United States and someone figured out that if we could just get our 12 year olds to think more seriously about trigonometry instead of their X Boxes and skateboarding, we would close the gap. So get them to plan, provide evidence of the plan, monitor the plan, and close the international math/science achievement gap!

We have very high expectations for counselors, dare I say even preposterously high. But I don’t see that changing. When I look at your agenda for the day, I am really impressed by the scope of what you address and I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with one another and to have the same shamelessly selfish motive I do in conference opportunities: steal the best ideas from elsewhere and claim them as my own!

We look for you to help kids in the personal, social, and academic realms. We expect you to be the experts in test prep, data analysis, developmental needs, so we ask you to do everything from design a testing schedule that works for everyone to being able to shift gears and work with kids who are experiencing extremely traumatic or just developmentally challenging issues in their lives. By the way, you should also be tech wizards so you can keep up on all the latest social networking tools to really know what kids are doing! But you also need to know about cutting, not to mention piercing, tattooing and how to advise parents and their students on these and other topics.

One final note, whatever you need from us today, if you need us to pull some resources we are happy to do that and happy to jump in on any part of the discussion administratively if you want our thoughts. Two areas I could weigh in on would be if you want MAP district perspective I’d be happy to help with that and also regarding twitter, as I think it is an excellent tool with lots of potential for educators.

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