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Conference and Professional Development

Ongoing professional development is critical to the success of Iowa school counselors and ISCA is committed to bringing opportunities to its members. From the annual ISCA conference, to webinars, seminars, and topic-specific conferences, check back often to find out about new and exciting opportunities around the state.  

Upcoming Events

FAFSA: A Scenario-Based Training by ICAN

FAFSA: A Scenario-Based Training provides participants the opportunity to learn about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and gain understanding of how to assist in the completion of the form. Participants will work with other professionals in the field to understand common issues and misconceptions that arise when assisting students in navigating the financial aid process. Training will take place: 

  • September 18, 2019 - Dubuque
  • September 25, 2019 - Council Bluffs

Recertification Online

  • September 12, 2019
  • September 17, 2019
Learn more

Financial Aid Basics - Navigating the Process

Take an in-depth look at the financial aid process from a foundational level. Ideal for school counselors and novice admissions and financial aid professionals, this training starts at square one with basic terminology and breaks down the financial aid process into easy-to-understand segments including:

  • Define types of aid available
  • Understanding financial need
  • How need is calculated
  • Award Letter Process
  • Funding Options for Students and Parents
  • Understanding Student Loans

    This training will also cover how to talk to students and parents about college costs, outline a school counselor’s role in the financial aid process for students with difficult or unique home situations, and review recommendations for engaging students and families in preparing for college financing.

    While this training will touch on the FAFSA form as part of the process, this is NOT FAFSA training and will not delve into the form in detail. Training will take place:

      • September 10, 2019 - Council Bluffs

      Learn more

      IASFAA Community Outreach Series: How to Avoid Common Mistakes on the FAFSA

      September 24 - 10-11 am

      This webinar will discuss best practices for the FSA ID and filing the FAFSA. Learn about common errors and how to help parents and students avoid these missteps in order to get the most from their FAFSA.


      Iowa ACAC Colleges to Counselors

      September 26 - 9 am - 2 pm - St. Ambrose University (Davenport)

      C2C is an opportunity for high school counselors to learn about different colleges and universities! We will provide you with a booklet that lists all details such as admissions requirements, scholarships, popular majors, etc. on each participating college and university. C2C is FREE to high school counselors! Please register at The registration deadline is September 24th


      PBIS: Supporting Our Most Vulnerable Children & Youth

      October 3-4, 2019 - Chicago

      This two-day forum for school, state, district, and regional leadership teams and other professionals has been designed to help increase the effectiveness of PBIS implementation.

      Learn more

      ASCA National Model - 4th Edition Workshop

      October 23 - 8:30 am

      Did you know there's a new edition of the ASCA National Model? This workshop will explore the changes and provide resources for aligning to the new model.


      Heartland Mental Health Response and Referral

      October 24 

      Participants will 

      • determine a systematic process for screening and documenting crisis and mental health referrals 
      • know when to complete a suicide screening, documentation, who to involve, and steps for a referral for higher level of care and follow up
      • identify and select depression and suicide screening tools 
      • understand the 3 types of releases of information and how and when to use them.  (IDEA, 504 and School District).
      • know a variety of options for collaboration, consultation and follow up for students who have been referred for MH therapy services with a private provider. 
      • discuss how consultation and collaboration look and create a plan for consistent response for MH referrals
      • create an outline for a reentry protocol for students returning to school from hospital, placement, long absence or crisis.

      ISCA Annual Conference

      November 3-5 - Prairie Meadows Conference Center - Altoona

      Join school counselors from across Iowa at the premier professional development event of the year. 

      Learn more.

      Iowa ASCD Trauma-Informed Conference

      November 13 - 9 am - 4 pm - DMACC Campus (Ankeny)

      Join Iowa ASCD for a highly interactive learning incorporating videos, music, and discussion to increase the level of impact and application. This one-day training combines 2 three-hour workshops designed to give educators the tools needed to create effective learning environments that support the needs of traumatized students.

      Learn more.

      IASFAA Community Outreach Series: Verification

      December 3 - 10 - 11 am

      This webinar will talk about the Verification process, why students are selected and how to avoid mistakes.


      IASFAA Community Outreach Series: Financial Aid Packages

      February 5 - 10-11 am

      With many student/families are just receiving their Financial Aid Packages this time of year, questions are going to arise. This webinar will go over what to look for in Financial Aid Packages and how to figure out what a bottom line cost will be for those students/families.


      Central Rivers Professional School Counselor Networking

      February 14 - 9 am - 3 pm

      Support professional school counselors in their role of impacting student learning experiences across CRAEA and collaborate with our Central Rivers AEA and Statewide partners to ensure system coherence across the districts within our agency. Who should attend? School counselors PK-12.

      Learn more.

      Counselor Academy

      School counselors from across Iowa take part in Counselor Academy at Heartland AEA.

      School counselors network and share experiences during the Level Sharing Session at ISCA.

      Counselor Academy

      The content of the Academy is based on the ASCA (American School Counselors Association) National Model and the Iowa Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program Model.

      The Academy provides the foundation for counselors to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate comprehensive school counseling services. Counselors develop comprehensive developmental guidance and counseling programs for their schools based on national and state standards and research based best practices.

      2019 Statewide Counselor Academy Dates

          • October 22
          • December 3
          • February 3
          • April 6

      AEA Counselor Academy Dates

          • Mississippi Bend
            October 11 and April 3
          • Keystone
            September 16
            December 12
            February 13
            April 8

      ASCA Annual Conference - June 27-30, 2020
      One Vision, One Voice - Seattle, Washington

      Save the Date! Join approximately 3,600 school counseling professionals for four days of inspirational keynote sessions, informative breakout sessions, in-depth looks at hot topics in the school counseling profession and networking opportunities galore.

      Iowa school counselors gather at ASCA.

      Ongoing Opportunities

       ISCA/ICAN Webinar Series

      The Iowa School Counselor Association (ISCA) and the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) partner to provide a webinar series on important topics and issues facing school counselors today.

      Check out the current list of scheduled webinars 

      Area Education Agency Professional Development Opportunities

      Contact your AEA for more information about your local options for Counselor Academy and additional professional development opportunities.

       ASCA Professional Development

      ASCA provides a lot of professional development opportunities from the annual conference and webinar series, to ASCA U specialist trainings, coaching, and site- and district trainings. Some opportunities require ASCA membership.

      Visit ASCA to learn more

       ICAN Professional Development Series - Career and College Readiness

      ICAN offers half-day and full day professional development opportunities in areas such as financial aid basics, FAFSA completion, and Career and College Readiness Curriculum. Certifications are available based on training assessments.

      Learn more.

       ISEA Academy

       The ISEA Academy offers courses for Iowa License Renewal and Drake University Graduate credit. Courses are on a monthly cycle. For questions please call or email Rhonda Plimmer or Cindy Swanson at 515-471-8000. Visit for the current course catalog.

       Courses have included:

        • ACEs: The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences
        • Making Magic with Motivation
        • A Spoonful of Sugar…Restorative Practices in the Classroom
        • Teaching… What’s culture got to do with it?
        • Brain Magic: Moving, Talking & Thinking Your Students to Their Full Potential
        • Creativity: The Force Within You
        • It Takes a Village: Building School, Family & Community Partnerships
        • Helping Students Overcome Depression and Anxiety
        • Ignite the Brain: Boosting Learning through Exercise & Fitness
        • Poverty in Our Backyard
        • Students in Poverty: Building Genius
        • Through Poverty’s Lens
        • Helping Traumatized Children Learn
        • Teaching with the Brain in Mind
        • Trauma Stewardship: Caring for Self While Caring For Others
        • Screen Addiction: Fighting the War
        • Mindfulness for Teachers
        • Developing School Mental Health Systems
        • School Mental Health Literacy
        • Racial & Cultural Trauma
        • Building Strong Student Relationships
        • Whole Child Wellness, 5-2-1-0 strategies for success
        • Use Design Thinking to Increase Creativity in the Classroom 

       Iowa College & Career Readiness Academy

      A suite of Iowa-specific online courses for college access and success professionals. 

      Iowa Youth Survey Reports for 2014

      The Iowa Youth Survey (IYS) district and non-public school reports are available from the 2014 survey.

      Resource Recommendations from ISCA Level Vice-Presidents

      Each level Vice-President takes the time to review their roles and responsibilities, as well as provide their favorite go-to resources for their programs. Brandon Drew (VP-Elementary), Amber Urbain (VP-Middle School/Junior High), Meri Edel (VP Secondary) and Shelby Bryce (VP K-12).

      Click here

      Join an ISCA Board Committee

      There are many opportunities to get involved, including board committees. Committees such as Advocacy, Newsletter, Awards & Recognition, and many more work toward the overall success of ISCA and all Iowa Professional School Counselors. Find a committee that interests you, contact the chair and join today. You'll learn about the different aspects of committee work, gain leadership experience and help elevate the profession around the state.

      Learn more

      Join the ISCA Board

      Being an ISCA board member is the chance to become a leader in your profession, and you simply have to love your job. The ISCA board is made up of individuals from a vast array of backgrounds with a large range of talents. Together, the board works to raise awareness of school counselor issues, advocate for the profession, seek out professional development opportunities, and plans the annual conference.

      Contact  Us
      Office: (515) 282-8192
      6919 Vista Drive
      West Des Moines, IA 50266
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