News and resources for Arizona's school counselors
Facing the Future Together: An update from the AzSCA Chair

The Work Continues

The Lifelong Learner

An Open Letter to Arizona

Share Your Story to Help Ensure School Counseling Programs are Funded

School Counselors in the News

Facing the Future Together

by Sarah Skemp
School Counselor, Lake Havasu High School
Chair, Arizona School Counselors Association

As the AzSCA Chair for 2020-2021, I am confident our Board of Directors (who include newly elected Anne Cardoso and Zulema Fragoso as well as seasoned council:  Ivette D’Angelo, Michelle Hoop, Bill Lucas (our new Assistant Chair), Britney Griffith, Julie Cota, and Past Chair, Shiloh Wheeler) will collaborate with our Board at Large and Executive Director to assist you in the challenges we will face, especially in the next few months.  
These past few months have been times of turmoil, not only with COVID-19 but race and racism protests, as well as talk of disbanding School Resource Officers.   School counselors are vital members of each school and our plate will have more added to it with regard to ensuring the trauma that some of our students have endured the last few months is addressed in a safe and secure environment.  

As we prepare to provide for our students, many may be fearing for the safety of ourselves, colleagues, students, and families.  Some of us are still waiting to learn of the details of the re-opening of our schools.   The 2020-2021 school year will be unique and even uncertain; however, with our education and training, we will overcome obstacles to provide services for our students.

AzSCA is here for you!  To support you; offer resources to keep you going; assist in helping you keep that passion; finding that balance in your life; and provide the services to our students.  

At our June Board meeting, I was impressed with the number who joined our virtual meeting.  The willingness from so many to step up and commit to the betterment of our association was astounding.   I thank all those involved, giving your time and energy.  I am thrilled with the opportunity to work with everyone this next year.

AzSCA Board will continue to meet (virtually until deemed safe and appropriate to meet in person) to ensure we meet the needs of our members.  Our focus will continue to be the 3 Rs:  Ratio, Respect, & Role.

  • We will offer mentoring for our new counselors (and for any of you who may need the extra support).
  • We will reach out to our stakeholders, especially our legislators, to continue our efforts to reduce our ratio (and remove us from the bottom of the rank).  
  • We have communicated with ADE to ensure School Counselor certification is accessible to a larger pool of people, while maintaining the integrity of our profession.

  • We will advocate to have all certified counselors be included in 301 funding.
  • We will advocate to continue to demonstrate how vital school counselors are in the education world.

  • We will communicate with our members, our Administrators, our stakeholders the role of the school counselor as well as how vital our profession is within the schools.
  • We will encourage school counselors to become leaders for our profession but also for our students.  In these times of turmoil, we must SPEAK UP regarding injustice to our students and families.  We must find courage to have the “tough conversations” about race and racism.   School counselors must be part of the solution through systemic change within your school counseling program.

Although focused, we know many things may change.  The State budget issues may cause financial hardships, even potential loss of jobs.   AzSCA is continuing to fight for the funds necessary to provide school counselor in each school.  We will keep our voices heard, to ensure our profession is at the forefront of all our stakeholders’ minds.  

I cannot emphasize enough that AzSCA is here for you!  Please reach out to me ( or any of our Directors with questions or concerns.  We will face the future together for all of us to become stronger, more purposeful, and indispensable!

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The Work Continues!

by Shiloh Wheeler
School Counselor, Thatcher USD
Past Chair, Arizona School Counselors Association

It was three years ago that I attended my first AzSCA meeting. Why did I go? Well, at that point I had been a lone counselor for a rural school district for about 7 years. I needed more support and I needed more connections to other school counselors, who like myself faced a huge caseload alone! I also wanted to be more involved and I wasn’t sure how to do it. When I decide I want to try something out, I jump in feet first. Most people will join the board, be part of a committee, and then run for an open position on the board of directors. I did not realize that it worked that way, so I ran for a board of directors’ position before even attending a board meeting and ended up on the Board of Directors.

Looking back, I don’t regret it at all!

At my first meeting, I didn’t know what to expect and wasn’t sure if I could be of any help- especially considering I lived 3 hours from Phoenix, but I knew I wanted to at least see what it was all about. People were nice and, honestly, it took me a few meetings to get my bearings on how it all operated and how I fit into this moving puzzle. I have come to realize this is normal and if you come to a board meeting and feel this way, just keep coming it gets better!

Now that I am wrapping up two years on the board of directors and most recently, my year as Chair of the Board of Directors, I am appreciative of the opportunity to serve. It has been amazing to work with so many great school counselors, advocates, and partners. I am amazed at the work that everyone does and how we are united by our common focus on our students.

Being on the board has broadened my horizons and assisted me in better understanding the in-depth the role and priorities of a school counselor. I have been able to make connections with school counselors throughout the state and build a network of support. Small town Thatcher doesn’t seem so small after all.

Looking back, I would have to say that my most significant growth has been in the understanding of the workings at the legislative level and how we really can make an impact at a higher level.

I have never before been this knowledgeable about what is going on in the state and within the legislature! It makes me seem so smart when I can talk with my superintendent about bills that are proposed or passed concerning education and the impact it can have on our students. I feel that has gained me much respect in my district on a variety of levels. Having this knowledge also leads to conversations about our school’s programs and I always tie it into school counseling work and goals. It has just added another way that I can advocate for school counseling on a different level than I hadn’t thought of before.

Being a part of the AzSCA board also gives me a feeling of empowerment. It’s a great way to feel and helps me to continuously work towards change in my school, community, and state. I think it’s because of the information I receive and the connections I make with others on the board. It has also immensely aided me in being able to see all the little steps that I can take without feeling overwhelmed.

I encourage you to get a little more involved – attend a board meeting, imagine what you can contribute to your association and profession. I am sure many are concerned about the time commitment if they were to become a part of the AzSCA general board or board of directors - I know I was! It does take some time, but the beauty is that we have a variety of committees and ways to be involved. I am sure there would be something that would fit your skills, abilities, interests, and time constraints.

AzSCA also helps to build and encourage great leaders due to the various leadership opportunities it provides. I am so confident in Sarah Skemp, our new Chair, that I have no doubt that our momentum will grow even greater throughout the next year. I am so excited to see what we can accomplish this upcoming year! I look forward to seeing you at our next meeting!

The Lifelong Learner

by Cien Luke
Executive Director, Arizona School Counselors Association

I came across an inspirational Tedx talk featuring Ben Dunlap entitled "The Lifelong Learner." In this video from March of 2007, Dunlap speaks about the importance of perpetual education, as well as the fundamentally good quality of human nature, and living by the conviction that human beings are intrinsically good.

In his career, Dunlap was a professor in the field of textile engineering at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and eventually became the President of the College.  In his Tedx talk, he shared memoirs of his favorite student, Sandor Tezler, an Hungarian American titan of the textile industry, who immigrated to the United States from Hungary at the close of World War II.  Tezler's textile manufacturing plants contributed immeasurably to the local and national economy.  At the age of 80, Tezler became a benefactor of Wofford College, and was a permanent student in every classroom on campus, adhering to his commitment of lifelong learning.  Through the years, Dunlap's respect for Tezler grew as Tezler shared of the atrocities he experienced as a holocaust survivor.  At one point in their relationship, Tezler said to Dunlap, "You know, doctor, human beings are fundamentally good."  And Dunlap opines, "For if he, who had been through so much, could believe in human nature after all of his mistreatments, who are we to think otherwise?"

In regards to lifelong learning, Dunlap also shared a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that also resonates:  "Live each day as if it's your last.  Learn as if you will live forever."

I hope you enjoy this Tedx talk as much as I did!
View Video

Open Letter to the Governor, Arizona Legislature, and Citizens from the Executive Directors 

by Cien Luke
Executive Director, Arizona School Counselors Association

The Executive Directors of several state Associations in the field of education met in May to discuss the challenges that we face in reopening our schools in the Fall.  As a lively and robust discussion ensued, it became obvious that our collective perspectives added a depth and breadth of understanding of our circumstances not achievable alone.  Through shared efforts we were able to identify several vulnerabilities, and addressed them in an open letter to the Governor, Arizona State Legislature, and Arizona citizens.  The resulting document is shown in the link below.

While the global pandemic continues to cause immeasurable uncertainty, there are some things that are certain.  Though the issue of reopening schools continues to be an emotionally charged and complicated one, we know that our students' mental health, and social/emotional learning is key to success.  This issue will not be solved overnight, but through resilience and dedication, a resolution can be found!  


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Share Your Story to Help Ensure School Counseling Programs are Funded

As the Arizona legislature makes budgetary decisions, AzSCA needs to keep the school counseling profession at the top of our elected official's minds to ensure school counseling programs are funded in our state. We are collecting stories from our members that highlight the role of the school counselor to show our legislators that our role is vital to the social, emotional, and academic health of Arizona's students.

Submit your stories and experiences of being a school counselor in action using the link below. How did you help a student? What made you, as a school counselor, uniquely positioned/prepared to help this student? 

Submit Your Story

School Counselors in the News

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Kimarie Tryon

Michelle Hoop
Board of Directors Liaison

The Communications Committee shall:
  • Coordinate up to four publications of ASCA newsletter per year
  • Provide to the Governing Board a timeline, which includes deadlines for submission of articles
  • Assign articles to the Governing Board.
  • Create calendar for newsletter article due dates, editing, sent to members date.
  • Manage the AzSCA Social Media platforms and electronic communications to AzSCA contacts.