by: Eileen Melody, CSCA Chairman
This is the time of the year that many school counselors focus on giving; we give to express our appreciation for a teacher’s collaboration or for a colleague’s willingness to try another promising intervention. We spend time shopping online or in line, searching for a token of gratitude which captures our genuine feelings, often left disappointed for not finding that perfect expression. What makes it so difficult to find the right gift?
I have thought about this often, particularly as I personally struggle. How do I give the gift of appreciation to so many school counselors in Connecticut, those on the CSCA Board and those who work tirelessly to elevate and honor the identity of the school counselor? I realize this goal is ambitious. I have come up with a way to accomplish my goal during this season of giving.
My gift is this metaphor. If you have rowed (crew) or know someone who has (fortunately I do - my son) you will understand this more easily than others who hopefully will be curious and find a person in your community to help you. In the eight person shell (boat), the rowers are numbered from 1 (closest to the bow/front) to 8 (closest to the stern/back). These rowers have different strengths which help the collective boat achieve its goal of moving towards the finish line as they are in sync with one another. When rowers are placed in their boat seats according to their strengths, the boat glides on the water in a smooth, elegant and continuous motion. The coxswain, sitting at the tip of the stern (for the 8 person boat), tends to be the smallest person in the boat, calling to the rowers to stroke in unison. The coxswain sees the waters ahead while the rowers sit facing the coxswain, trusting the commands and directions will bring them to their goal. The coxswain is an important role, but no more important than any other in the boat.
This year as Chairman I am the coxswain who sees the challenges that we, counselors, will encounter, and I strive to observe and absorb information from you, the rowers. At times, I have “called” the strokes so to aid you, the rowers, in your desire to stay in sync with the CSCA vision to accomplish our team goals. I have worked to place school counselors in our CSCA shell, recognizing their strengths to lead and move us forward.
My suggestion to all is to remember this metaphor. We are in this boat of working on behalf of Connecticut’s students. It’s hard work, particularly because, like the rowers, we can’t always see where we are going. Sometimes we feel alone in our boat as the only school counselor in our building. Sometimes we feel that we are in the wrong position in our boat (i.e. the freshman counselor who seeks another role, perhaps Director). We must honor each one’s boat position, supporting each person’s strengths while recognizing that every rower, every one of us, brings collective significance.
I encourage you to embrace the CSCA as your boat; let the CSCA support you in your struggles and celebrate the value that you add to the school counseling community. Stay connected and in unison with professionals who share your common purpose and passion; enjoy your boat ride!