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More than 700 people attended the 2019 Orange County Counselor Symposium in November. The event is the result of a fruitful partnership between the Orange County Department of Education and the Los Angeles/Orange County Regional Consortium of Community Colleges.
The goal is to provide professional development for all types of counselors, from K-12 through college and school-based mental health professionals.
Dr. Cathleen Greiner, Regional Director Employer Engagement, Business & Entrepreneurship Orange County, represented the B&E sector at the event. Regional Directors presented on workforce changes and preparing students for a rapidly-changing economy.
“This is the largest comprehensive, intersegmental counselor conference in the state,” Greiner said. “It represents a special opportunity for an extensive community to elevate connections, share events and practices, and focus on serving and supporting all of our students, moving from high school to community college. With nearly 600,000 K12 and 300,000 community college students in the OC, working together is critical for student success and connecting with a breadth of employers in such a diverse and dynamic business environment.”
The event’s keynote speaker was Charles Lee-Johnson, Director of the Masters of Social Work Program at California Baptist University. He has received commendations from multiple school districts and the White House for his work with “at-promise” youth and families.
Kevin Fleming, Interim Vice President of Strategic Development at Norco College, hosted sessions such as “Asking the Right Questions to Facilitate Student Success.”
Fleming said the Symposium allows counselors to break out of their individual silos and work together to secure a brighter future for Orange County’s students.
“We’re no longer training students for a job, we’re preparing them for a cluster of occupations, and symposiums like this give us the tools to do that,” Fleming said.
This annual event has created a productive community for the region’s counselors. “I think it’s one of the biggest professional development opportunities for counselors,” said Judy Park, a counselor at Tustin Unified School District. “I find that every year that I come, all of the sessions are highly relevant. I look forward to this event every year.”
Counselors who attended report that learning from each other is key to their personal success. “It’s so important. We get so busy doing what we do that we don’t get a chance to sit back and think about if there is better way of doing this,” said Jane Jepson, CTE Counselor at Cypress College.
Other sessions at the Symposium covered financial aid best practices, creating inclusive schools for LGBTQ+ students, and using guided pathways to help students achieve success.
For more information on the OC Counselor Symposium, watch the highlight video here or visit the Orange County Department of Education website.