Advocate of the Year
Professional Learning and Leadership Consultant
Susen Schirmer, Professional Learning and Leadership Consultant for the Heartland AEA, has been a tireless advocate for the school counseling profession in Iowa, but it was her work in creating and providing the School Counselor Academy that makes her stand out. Counselor Academy is a professional development opportunity designed to increase school counselors’ understanding and implementation of the ASCA Model. This education helps counselors to strengthen their programs and advocate for their roles, and is critical to school counselor effectiveness.
Though Counselor Academies have been occurring throughout a number of AEA’s, in the 2017-2018 school year, Susen coordinated a statewide delivery of Counselor Academy, utilizing technology in the form of Zoom video conferencing. While Sue taught face-to-face with her group of school counselors at Heartland AEA, other facilitators, usually AEA consultants responsible for school counselor support, were with groups of school counselors at their AEAs, having access to the same instruction and activities. In all, over 300 school counselors participated in this experience across Iowa. In addition, this same format for Counselor Academy is being offered again in the 2018-19 school year, reaching even more counselors throughout Iowa.
Equitable access to quality professional development geared specifically to school counselors is a crucial piece to ensuring school counselor effectiveness. While in an ideal world, all school counselors would be offered the same opportunities, that is not currently the case. Susen singlehandedly leveled the playing field with her statewide delivery of Counselor Academy. She created the entire content for the course, including organizing or creating all materials used. Because of her efforts, school counselors all across Iowa had access to instruction that they might not have