Can you help Save Teens from Lame Jobs?

How do you encourage high school students to take the ACT WorkKeys® assessment seriously? The marketing team at The Orchard Foundation decided that a hero could best capture the attention of busy and distracted high school students. The Jobinator, a caped superhero who, “By day, saves teenagers from lame jobs. By night, predicts the future, namely which jobs will be the hottest,” soon came to the rescue.

To date, this initiative has helped Central Louisiana residents earn over 18,474 National Career Readiness Certificates™. The Orchard Foundation also provides ACT Career Ready 101® courses to prepare students to take the ACT WorkKeys assessments and is presently working to implement the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative in nine parishes in central Louisiana. Learn more here.

FREE Webinar to Help ALL Students and Educators realize the value of WorkKeys and the NCRC


This webinar shares practical strategies for helping deepen students, parents, and educators realize the real value and potential of WorkKeys and the National Career Readiness Certificate. The session includes information on student and educator resources to prepare for the WorkKeys assessments, soft skills enhancement, and re-taking the WorkKeys assessments to earn or upgrade a student’s NCRC. Additionally, information on South Carolina’s, best in the nation, Work Ready Communities Initiative is included:



Six School Counselor Technology Protocols Infographic

This infographic includes several technology best practices for School Counselors, but many of these could apply to all professions…


Six School Counselor Technology Protocols Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

For more ideas on improving your use of technology in your school, please see:

Have a great day!

What Problems Do you Want to Solve?

This is a re-blog from the ReigningIt blog:

“Did you catch the mindshift in education recently? It started when a casappicture from a conference where Google Chief Education Evangelist Jaime Casapspoke.

“Rather than, What do you want to be when you grow up? Let’s ask, What problem do you want to solve? … This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to be able to do that.”

Mind blown.

Educators, parents, those working in corporate all united in a wave of re-tweets, FB re-posts, and re-sharing on Google+. Everytime I saw this quote, I flashed back to my childhood when adults would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Once I gave a standard response (librarian was my dream job, in case you are wondering), the conversation ended. As a school counselor, I am guilty of asking that same question to my students as I get to know them. Each time I read that quote, I feel an inner voice telling me that I can and MUST do better for my students.

A few days ago I was meeting with a student for the first time. We chatted easily, but I couldn’t shake the sense that she heard my voice as the adult Snip20151203_8voice in the Peanuts cartoon: “Wah wah wah.” Before I knew it, the question came out of my mouth. “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Ugh. I cringed inside.

“An astronaut,” the student replied quickly. Clearly this question had been asked before. I paused for a moment, thinking of how to phrase my next question.

“What unresolved questions about space or problems do you want to solve as an astronaut?” I asked. She opened her mouth to respond and then hesitated. Silence ensued as I watched her think about her response for the first time since we met.

“We’ve only just begun to explore what life forms exist on Mars,” she began. “I am curious to know what types of microorganisms live there and how they have evolved to withstand the climate. I also want to marslearn more about life on other planets and how those organisms have evolved.”
I was stunned by the response. Oh, did I mention this is an eleven-year-old? I literally felt chills as I listened to this student talk about excitedly about space exploration. I felt honored to listen to her articulate questions she never realized she had about our universe. I held back tears, thinking to myself, “This conversation would have happened had I not learned to reframe a question I’ve asked hundreds of times.””

See the original post at: 

Fun with testing???

While some educators have a very negative attitude towards testing, some educators like the teachers at Cedar Grove Elementary School in South Carolina have decided to have some fun with preparing for ACT Aspire.

Could this make a difference on the day of the test?

I have always believed that the attitude of the adults in the building helped to determine the attitude of most (not all) students in terms of:

1) Attitude toward testing
2) Importance of the test – the big “why” are we taking this test; what can it do for me?
3) Overall confidence in facing the assessment

This might be the best test prep video of 2015…

Cedar Grove Funk 2015

Students in South Carolina are “ACT-ing!”

This video is another great example of how educators can have some fun with assessment.

Please check out this video created by middle school teachers Justin Goldsmith and James Hogue at Legacy Charter School in Greenville. These teachers, created a rap video with some friends from Anderson University to pump students up with lyrics like “yeah we ACT-ing and we MAP-ing too. ‘Bout to pass it all ’cause that’s just what them scholars do.” You can see it on YouTube:



Standardized Testing Fun?

The words testing and fun are rarely used in the same sentence, but maybe we should try to combine these two necessary elements of education more often.  I am not sure that taking tests is ever really fun, but adding some humor to testing certainly can help.

While I do know of any research to prove this, I have to believe that putting a smile on the faces of students and educators before testing can only be a good thing for all involved.

Take a look at one school did to have some fun preparing for ACT Aspire:

Great FREE Resource for Inspirational Quotes and Posters

Michael Werner, just like me, is addicted to educational quotes.   Unlike me, Mr. Werner turned his addiction into a fun, free website called “BEST TEACHER QUOTES” where educators can print FREE mini-posters of teacher-related quotes.

Clearly, I think that this concept is great for School Counselors.  The walls in my office are frequently plastered with quotes that I find inspirational and I devoted a whole page on this site to my ever-growing list of favorite quotes:

Why?  Because we all can use a little extra inspiration from time to time.  I always believed that part of my job as a School Counselor was to help motivate my students and parents to make good decisions.  I also have long believed that quotes can be a powerful tool to help us, our students, and the parents we serve to remember why we do what we do and how we can do it better!

Finally, if you decide to subscribe, for free, to you will be notified every time a new mini-poster is added (about once a week) and you can downlaod a free copy of the PDF ebook, 57 Inspirational Teacher Quotes as an incentive to subscribe.

So, if you or your students are looking for a little free inspiration or advice check it out!

Is LinkedIn getting into College Match-Making?

I received an email this morning from LinkedIn titled, “Introducing a better way for your students to find the right university.”

Is LinkedIn really getting into the College Match-Making game?

This seems like a great business move for LinkedIn to build relationships with students early.

Is this a good thing for students and parents?  Would you use LinkedIn to help your student or even your own kids do their college search?

Check this out and see what you think…

LinkedIn College Search


Please share this with friends and colleagues if you think it a good idea or post a comment here.

Have a great week!

5+ Ways to Refresh your IGP Conferences

Please note: This post first appeared on March 9, 2014; I updated some of the resource links and resource names on November 13, 2014.

I have been talking a lot recently with School Counselors and Career Specialists around South Carolina about their Individual Graduation Plan (IGP) Conferences.  It is clear to me that there are many very talented and passionate educators who are flirting with both burnout and boredom due to the “sameness” and repetition of these conferences.

I believe that burnout and boredom could threaten one of the most powerful tools School Counselors and Career Specialists have to make a difference in the lives of their students. After doing some brainstorming recently with School Counselors and Career Specialists in Lexington School District #1 and Spartanburg School District #1, I came away with the following strategies to help prevent burnout and boredom while providing the best possible IGP experience possible for the students, their families, and educators:

1) Eliminate as many of the redundant conversation items as possible.  Items such as attendance policies, graduation requirements, and where to find certain resources are items that could be provided in a video format prior to the IGP Conference.  Here is a great example from Gilbert High School: 10th IGP Presentation.

2) Personalize the IGP Process with Data.  Conduct a “pre-IGP” Survey with the student (and possibly family) to determine the top 3-5 items/issues that the student/family want to discuss during the IGP Conference.  Google Forms would be a quick and easy way to collect this data: How to Create a Google form.

3) Infuse Technology and/or Social Media. Consider creating an app (Yapp is an easy to use FREE app builder) and sending reminders to your students and families via Text (check out Remind), Twitter and Facebook.  The best IGP conferences involve the student’s family.

4) Eliminate Non-Counselor Duties. If you cannot delegate IGP Conference to a clerical staff member (and even if you can do a hand off to a clerical staff member) you might want to consider a move to online scheduling and email reminders to improve efficiency and family involvement.  To offer online IGP Conference scheduling, check out: and Sign Up Genuis.

5) Go Virtual.  If your students and/or parents, can’t come to you; go to them virtually! Taking time off of work, finding parking at the school, and getting back to work can be difficult for many parents.  Perhaps you have a student that is homebound?  WebEx and GoToMeeting offer great, easy to use virtual meeting solutions that are desktop computer and mobile-friendly (Smart Phones and Tablet Devices).  Take one of these tools for a test-drive by conducting a virtual team meeting or a virtual-PLC (Professional Learning Community) meeting!


Your IGP Conferences are too important to let them get stale (for yourself, your students, and your families)!

What are you waiting for?  Try something new!  You will be glad you did!

If you have other IGP improvement ideas that are working for you, please share them here by leaving a comment.