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4 Questions 4 Bernadine Craft, Counselor, Educator, WY State Legislator and Advocate
Dr. Bernadine Craft is a counselor who has traveled many different professional paths in her distinguished career. She has served as a school and private practice counselor, counselor educator, as well as a professional organization leader at the national, regional, state, and local levels. More recently, however, Bernadine has accepted the challenges of serving the public as the State Representative for District 17 of the Wyoming State Legislature. In this interview with ACAeNews for School Counselors, she talks about the relationship of her professional and public roles and the importance of advocacy in each.
Question: How did you become interested in elected politics and eventually make the decision to run for office?
My first experience with politics occurred when I served as a lobbyist working to pass the counselor licensure bill in Wyoming. Those were exciting times for the Association, with so many of us becoming politically active for perhaps the first time. I learned a great deal (and garnered a few scars from my various battles) during that time. I still remember the elation when that bill was signed into law. While I enjoyed the experience,running for elected office was something that could not have been further from my mind. When my husband (Dr. Larry Hill, Past AMHCA President) died in 2006, a number of my friends and colleagues thought I needed a new adventure, and seeking the House seat in my district was the answer.
I remember being bewildered initially by all the things I had to do. In fact, I took so much time coming to a decision that one of my supporters had to drive my filing papers 250 miles to Cheyenne in order to meet the deadline. The more thought I gave to the decision to seek election, however, the more I realized that this was indeed a good opportunity for me to use the various skills and knowledge I had acquired over the years to advocate for issues I believe to be critical. I was elected to a seat in the Wyoming House and currently am the only mental health professional in the Wyoming legislature. Additionally, I am one of 17 women among the 60 House legislators. I'm passionate about using my professional and legislative voice to represent the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Question: How important were the leadership roles you played in ACA and its divisions and regions in preparing you for your role as a state legislator?
The leadership roles I played in ACA were probably the single biggest advantage I had as a freshman legislator. My BA degree is in speech communications; the great experiences I had working in so many leadership roles within ACA lessened much of the "stage fright" that plagues many freshmen members, both in the committee setting and on the floor. Not only did ACA provide the platform for me to gather that experience, it also gave me a good familiarity with important issues. The Government Relations training I received through ACA provided valuable insight in working a bill, either as a lobbyist or as a legislator, including the importance of forming collegial relationships on both sides of the aisle.
Question: From your perspective as a legislator, what advice would you give to school counselors regarding how they can be the most effective advocates for students, counseling, and education?
I'm always so pleased when school counselors appear to testify in a committee or lobby for a piece of legislation. I sit on the Joint Education Committee, as well as several select committees focused on education, so I'm usually one of the first approached on educational issues. Probably the most critical thing to remember when advocating for any issue is the major time constraints legislators' work under. Very few of us have staff, and while I am fortunate enough to have an intern to do research, many of us rely on you for background on your specific issue. This means you must be very concise, to the point, and above all, honest--give us all the arguments, including those your opponents might make.
If you are planning to advocate for a particular piece of legislation, it's important that you contact legislators before we ever go to the legislature--meet us at home. Once we hit the Capitol, the pace is frenetic and in-depth discussion is almost impossible. When you do testify or lobby, if we know you have researched your issue well, presented it concisely and honestly, and provided us with talking points, you will become invaluable.
I'm currently working with a group of educators, including counselors, who want to make amendments to our existing Hathaway State Scholarship program. I'm proud to carry their legislation on the floor because I know they have given me convincing arguments, and because I can be relatively sure I won't be blindsided by arguments I was not prepared for. Never forget your importance to the process; never forget how important it is for our collective voice as counselors to be heard. Your input is critical in the often cynical confines of the Capitol.
Question: What guidance would you offer fellow counselors and educators about seeking political office?
If you are interested in seeking public office, at any level, be informed on the important issues of your constituency, and be prepared to articulate your position on them. Never forget the "all politics is local" postulate, form campaign committees early, engage trusted advisors, and seek endorsements from groups sympathetic to your positions. State and local education groups were crucial to my success, donating not only campaign contributions, but also campaigning for me. Campaigning is hard work, with the most important component (and usually the one most dreaded) going door to door in your district--meeting your constituents and hearing their concerns. Never forget who you represent and who entrusted you with their vote. Be educated, articulate and energetic and never be afraid to run. You have so much to contribute to the process!
In addition to her legislative responsibilities, Dr. Craft is the Executive Director for Sweetwater Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Rock Springs, Wyoming. She teaches psychology and hatha yoga at Western Wyoming Community College and maintains a private psychotherapy practice.Bernadine has 29 years experience as a school counselor working at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and has served as a student services department chair.
Her involvement in counseling association work began with her election as Wyoming Counseling Association president and service as the founding President for the Wyoming School Counselors Association and the Wyoming Mental Health Counselors Association. Bernadine became active in the work of the ACA Western Region, serving as regional chairperson and representative to the ACA Governing Council. Another regional role was government relations chair. At the national level, she has been President and Governing Council Representative of the Counseling-Association for Humanistic Education and Development and chairperson of the ACA Awards Committee.
Relevant Research: Mental Health of Children and Teens Impacts Time They Spend in School
A study released this fall has found a tie between the effects of child and adolescent health on educational outcomes. Queen's University researcher Steven Lehrer and Jason Fletcher of Yale University recently published their paper in the journal Forum for Health Economics & Policy. "Our study shows that poor mental health in children and teenagers has a large impact on the length of time they will stay in school," says Dr. Lehrer.
The findings provide strong evidence that inattention symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in childhood and depression in adolescents are linked to the number of years of completed schooling. The authors point to potentially significant benefits from childhood and adolescent mental health interventions as positively influencing levels of educational attainment. In their study, the team introduces a new research design they call a "genetic lottery" identification strategy, based on the fact that at conception there are differences in genetic inheritance among siblings.
Journal Abstract... (Note: Readers must register to download full article)
Department of Education Announces Grant Program for K-12 Schools
Counselors in K-12 settings may be interested in the following grant program recently announced by the U.S. Department of Education.
Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (Federal Register: January 12, 2010 [CFDA# 84.215E)
The purpose of the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling program is to support efforts by LEAs (public school districts) to establish or expand counseling programs.
The FY 2010 grant application package may be downloaded from the following Department of Education's websites: http://e-Grants.ed.gov or http://www.ed.gov/programs/elseccounseling/applicant.html.
Quotable Quotes of Notable People ~ First Lady Michelle Obama
"Don't let those tests defeat you. Don't let those tests define you."
FAFSA Streamlined for Student Use
The U.S. Department of Education made good in early January on a promise to streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA). The 2010-11 FAFSA-on-the-Web has been redesigned to be shorter, simpler, and more user-friendly. Questions are now asked only if relevant to the applicant; low-income students, for example, are no longer asked for asset information, and only returning students are asked about prior drug convictions because the question does not apply to first-year students.
Also, immediately after submitting the FAFSA, applicants will now receive a confirmation email message which indicates Pell Grant eligibility and links to information about the schools they are applying to, such as graduation and transfer rates and a detailed breakdown of costs and expected expenses associated with the schools.
For Your Professional Library: New ACA Resources for Counseling in Schools
Suicide Prevention in the Schools: Guidelines for Middle and High School Settings (Second Edition) by David Capuzzi
In this book, David Capuzzi, a recognized expert on suicide, encourages suicide prevention in schools through the use of a clear and effective crisis management plan designed to identify and serve at-risk youth. His concise, step-by-step framework provides essential information for school counselors, administrators, and faculty on suicide assessment, faculty roles and responsibilities, and instructions on how to implement a building- or district-wide prevention program that includes faculty training and preparation of crisis teams. The key features of the book include:
2009 | 120 pages
Strengths-Based Career Development for School Guidance and Counseling Programs
This publication is the first of its kind and a must-read for school counselors, teachers, administrators, and other educational personnel committed to fully integrating strengths-based career development content and career guidance activities into their schools' comprehensive guidance and counseling programs. Gysbers and Lapan give step-by-step instructions on how to achieve full integration using a holistic, strengths-based career development model that unites the academic, career, and personal-social domains of comprehensive guidance and counseling programs.
Part I provides a historical overview of the theoretical foundation for comprehensive school guidance and counseling programs. Part II contains an organizational framework and evidence-based activities for delivering career guidance to all students, Pre-K to12. Part III offers a plan for designing, delivering, evaluating, and advocating for strengths-based career development in schools.
Published by Counseling Outfitters, LLC
2009 | 260 pgs
Reliable Resource: New Compendium Describes College and Career Readiness Programs
A new compendium from the American Youth Policy Forum describes programs that have been proven to help young people successfully complete high school and be prepared for success in postsecondary education and the world of work. Twenty-three program evaluations are summarized to give practitioners and policymakers an understanding of the research findings on effective programs along with descriptions of why programs work. The programs represent a wide range of interventions, including school-wide reform initiatives, community-based afterschool services, work-based learning opportunities, and college access programs.
National College Fair Series Brings Colleges Close to You
From Boston to Honolulu...on to San Diego and back to Tampa...and everywhere in between, the 30 stops on the springtime National Association for College Admission Counseling National College Fair series provide opportunities for students, parents, and school counselors themselves to interact with admission representatives and acquire information via a face-to-face exchange. NACAC expects 850,000 participants in the 2010 series. In total, NACAC sponsors 20 additional national fairs in its fall program and 17 fairs annually for students interested in studying the performing and visual arts. View the spring calendar of fairs at the link below and begin now to promote attendance in the school community.
National School Counseling Week to be Celebrated February 1-5, 2010
National School Counseling Week 2010 has been set for February 1-5, 2010. Advancing the theme, "Celebrate School Counseling," the observance is designed to focus public attention on the unique contribution of professional school counselors within U.S. school structure. Sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, the observance highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for postsecondary education or career.
ACA Conference Offers 70+ Sessions for School Counselors
More than 70 Education Sessions of specific interest to school counselors will be on the agenda at the ACA Conference & Exposition, March 18-22 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Many more of the 500+ programs may also be of interest. Click here to view the school-counseling specific programs. And, by attending at least six full designated sessions, you can bring home an ACA School Counseling Academy certificate. In addition, several Pre-conference Learning Institutes were developed for school counselors, including the March 18 Introductory level LI "Counseling to Get Students Ready for College: A Multidimensional Approach," and the March 19 Advanced session, "Challenging Discrimination Against LGBTQ Youth in Schools: A Guide to Transformative Advocacy for School Counselors.
Join your professional colleagues in what is shaping up to be one of the strongest programs ever for professional counselors. Register today and make your travel arrangements far enough out to benefit from discounted fares.
Worth Reading: Study Finds Elementary School Children Notice and Think About Race
A study of children from ethnically and socioeconomically diverse U.S. areas has found that children develop awareness about racial stereotypes early, and that those biases can be damaging. Reported in the November/December 2009 issue of Child Development, the researchers found that children between the ages of 5 and 11 become aware that many people believe stereotypes, including stereotypes about academic ability.
When children become aware of these types of bias about their own racial or ethnic group, it can affect how they respond to everyday situations, ranging from interacting with others to taking tests. African American and Latino youths who were aware of broadly held stereotypes about their groups, for example, performed poorly on standardized tests, confirming the negative stereotype in a self-fulfilling prophecy. The study findings included information derived from parent surveys.
College Costs Continue to Rise as Do the Number of Students Receiving Aid
The College Board announced in late October that college prices for the 2009-10 academic year continue to rise as state funding and institutional endowment values decline. The financial difficulties facing households across the nation are putting increased pressure on financial aid budgets. Although grant aid also rose significantly in 2008-09 (the latest year for which data are available), student borrowing continues to increase, as does the gap between available resources and the overall cost of attending college.
Reports from the U.S. Census Bureau have found that 6 in 10 full-time students (62.3%) are getting help from outside their families in paying for college.
In the News: A Story about a Dedicated School Counselor
Most would admit that our daily newspapers aren't teeming with stories that make us smile. That is why a Washington Post story about an active 81-year-old school counselor in Manassas, Virginia caught this editor's eye. Check it out!
Inside JCD: Items of Interest for School Counselors Coming in the Spring Edition
The Spring 2010 edition of the Journal of Counseling & Development has a number of articles that are relevant to the practice of school counseling and the counseling needs of various persons in their learning roles. This edition is scheduled to arrive in your mailbox in early March.
A Typology of Burnout in Professional Counselors
Content Analysis of the Journal of Counseling & Development
A Narrative Approach to Supporting Students Diagnosed With Learning Disabilities
The School Counselor's Role in School Dropout Prevention
About ACAeNews for School Counselors
ACAeNews for School Counselors is one of four electronic newsletters that are published three times per year each by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members working in elementary, middle, secondary and adult education settings. It is disseminated as an opt-in subscription enewsletter and is a free benefit of ACA membership.
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Direct comments, questions and submissions to Frank Burtnett. All submissions will be subject to review by ACA for accuracy, timeliness and relevance to the readership and may be edited.
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