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Thursday, July 5, 2018

My Journey to Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern



I want to apologize for how long this may be. I had had a lot of requests and messages for this post, so here you go! :)
When I began graduate school right after undergraduate, I knew I wanted to one day be a licensed
professional counselor (I kind of want to be everything one day). I had it all planned out. I would
graduate with my Masters degree and would immediately start my hours towards becoming a licensed
professional counselor but as life usually works, things didn’t go as planned. When I started graduate
school the plan was to wait years before having kiddos. When I graduated in December 2009, I had a
2 and half year old precious boy and was pregnant with a baby girl. Although, my dream was to do it,
being a mom that could devote more time to my babies was much more important and I don’t ever
regret it. Being a full time working mom of 2 kids under 3 and working on those hours would have
been too much at the time.





Fast forward 8 years later. Becoming a LPC had still been on my heart and one day after thyroid
surgery, I received a call that really prompted me to go after it. I got a call from the surgeon saying
they had found a small amount of malignant carcinoma. I went to the next doctor which said it was
papillary thyroid cancer. It was all taken out and they continue to monitor. It was such a blessing that
it was all pretty quick and easy.


However, that experience really made me reflect. What if it would have been worse? What if it ever got
bad to where I couldn’t have worked full time? Being a wife and mom are my top priorities but I also
find so much joy working with people. I felt as if all of that was a push from God. I talked to my
husband and knew this was the next step for me. I do not have plans of pursuing this full time or
anything because I LOVE working in the schools but knew it was something I wanted to do and soon.
I immediately began studying for the NCE. Below are the steps I had to do and check off:

-I first had to go to my state’s website (I am in Texas) to see what the requirements were. I printed it off and made a checklist. One of the things that comes up is what kind of degree or classes are required. When I worked on my masters I did not get a Masters of Education, I received a Masters of Science. I went with the 3 and a half years degree plan, it was around 63 something hours. It included what I needed to be a LPC (clinical and classes on diagnosis) and a school counselor.

-I had to get approved through the National Board of Certified Counselors to take the National
Counseling Exam (which is required in my state and almost all I believe). I had to fill out some forms
and get my graduate transcript to them to ensure I had the correct degree/classes. Make sure when
you do this step to ensure you are applying to take the test and not to become a national board
certified counselor. You can do both but it not done correctly you won’t get approved to take the
needed test (I almost made that mistake).

-I studied as hard as I ever had in my life for the test. Remember I had a 9 year gap between
graduating with my masters so I had to refresh on a lot of material, especially the new DSM-5. I am a
positive person but I was almost certain I was not going to pass (where was my positive self talk,
right...lol). I used a great website I found online called National Counseling exam. It was exactly what
I needed. You can choose how many days you would like to use the program. It had printable features
like study guides which I made a binder out of but I mostly used the online study tools and practice
exams which were the most helpful part.

-After passing the exam, I began to look for a supervisor. You must secure a supervisor and
have them complete an agreement with you before you can submit all your paperwork to the state. I
simply looked online. There were so many great ones out there but I knew I wanted someone with
different experiences than I had. My background is all school so I knew I wanted to expand my
knowledge base so I looked for someone that had more of a hospital/clinical background. I contacted
her, we met up to see if we were both a good fit for each other, and I had my first supervision this past
week. Once you are officially approved through the state, you can begin your hours. I can tell I am
going to love supervision time with her. I already learned something new!

-After I completed the test, finding a supervisor, and gathering all the required documentation

(transcripts, application, state paperwork), I took the Texas Jurisprudence exam. This is not a pass/fail
test, this is more a review of ethics in regards to counseling.

-I bought a bright pink envelope because I wanted to send this in a “counselor version-Elle Woods”
way. I wanted it to stand out because I knew it was going to take months to get approval. I sent it the
fastest way possible. (Note: It did take around 2 months but not as bad as I had expected).

-Now I am working on getting my 3000 supervised hours. 1500 are direct counseling (counseling

and conversations with parents/families) and 1500 indirect (assessments, researching, documentation,
weekly meetings with my supervisor).


Finally a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern under the supervision of Erin James LPC-S

I hope that helps if you are considering starting the process. Just a reminder that I am in Texas so if you
are in another state, the requirements could be different. Please feel free to message me any
questions.


There are some exciting things with the blog coming up!! I have a collaboration in the works with
another blogger! We will have a bit of spin off with a FB group, new blog, and more!

I am also working on a Top 10 Back to School post and I can’t wait to share it with you! Hope you are
all enjoying your summer!




Love & Positive Vibes,
Melanie

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mobile Office


When talking to fellow administrators, one of the topics that frequently comes up is visibility on campus. Sometimes, we have weeks with many meetings or are handling situations where we may not have the opportunity to be out in the building as much as we would like to.

As an elementary counselor, I would feel this way, too, and often I would take my counseling bag and just visit kiddos in the hall and devote a day to being around the building and doing check ins. With all the duties of a counselor, those days reminded me of my why.

 I do not like the feeling of not being as visible to the staff and students. Having a mobile office is the perfect solution. I have seen it floating around on Twitter and Instagram and thought I would give it a try. I know Megan does it, as well, at her campus. I even had the privilege of seeing her "wheel" by one day when I was at a meting. So what exactly is a mobile office? Basically, you grab a cart or flex/standing desk, grab your laptop and walkie, and anything you need to work on and work around the building. I was also doing classroom walk throughs so I didn't have a specific place to station myself. If a discipline situation came up or a staff member needed me, I had my walkie and my phone. I actually was able to "roll on over" to where I was needed and it worked beautifully. Outside of my office door, I put a sign that said I would be in my mobile office and to please text me if they needed me so if anyone stopped by, they would know how to reach me.


I loved being able to answer any questions, address any situations quickly, and for the students and staff to not have to come to me in the office, instead I was right there to serve them. I actually got a lot of work done in between walk throughs. The students loved saying hello in the hall.  It was something so simple yet gave me the opportunity to be available and serve, which is what I aim to do.

Our campus had purchased the standing desk that I am using in the picture above. We have one we share in the office and we had a few that we have used for students that need them in the classroom. I do not have the link to the specific one I am using but there is a similar option that you can find HERE. Megan has a nice, oval shaped standing desk that has a lot more room. Of course, you can also use a cart or you could station yourself in a particular hallway with a regular desk and chair.

Regardless of how you do it or what you use, the goal is to be available, visible, and enjoy being a part of the campus where everything is taking place...right in the halls and classrooms.


-Melanie



















Tuesday, October 10, 2017

My Hope for You...

When you think of your students...what is your hope for them?

One of the back to school activities we had at Shannon this year was to have our team members (staff and families) write their hope for our students on a card to be displayed in the hall. I was blown away by reading the cards because I think our team captured it all perfectly. It all boiled down to reaching every child not only academically but emotionally.





I think we can all agree that we want students to be academically successful and have high expectations set before them. We want them to rise to challenges and be resilient.

Yet, when we look at the child as a whole...our hopes for them involve more than that.  As educators, we work with students that have all types of backgrounds, differences, and challenges. Our job is to teach them even more than they "need" to know, make them feel safe, and help bring out the best in them (their talents, strengths, & abilities).


So, as our year gets settled, I challenge you to reflect on your hope for your students. What do you want for them? What do you need to do to bring that out in them? I feel that when we understand what our hopes for our kids are, it helps us focus on our why.



At the beginning of the school year, Dr. Anderson (our Secondary Chief Academic Officer) shared a video (below) by Michael Jr, a comedian, that talked about knowing your why. In the video, he said something that was so profound to me. He said, "When you know your why, your what becomes more impactful because you're walking towards or in your purpose."

This made me reflect on my why which brought me to what I hope for the students that I work with. So, as the busyness of the year consumes your mind, I hope that you will have the opportunity to reflect on your hopes for your students in your class, your school, and your district....and what your part will be in making that a reality.

-Melanie

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Fall Faves: Books, a Conference & More!

Fall is here! Besides Christmas, it is my favorite time of the year. The excitement of a new school year, pumpkin everything, and the amazing weather (in Texas that means low 80's but I will take what I can get).

Since it is Fall, it's the perfect time to share some of my favorite things (some school related and some not). But I first wanted to share about an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and build your personal learning network! My friend (and school counselor who blogs HERE) Melissa and I will be presenting at the upcoming Lone Star School Counselor Association Fall Conference. This will be my first time to attend and present. Melissa went last year and said it was amazing. If you are interested in attending, you still can! You can find more information HERE!
 
I don't know about you but other than coffee, one of my favorite things to buy are books!! I love educational books, children's books....I will take them all. I try to keep a list on my phone when I come across a neat book I would love to add to my own kiddos' collection, for use at school, or for me to read. My husband then orders a few here and there for me when he orders other things on Amazon. I was so excited the other day when two books came for me!

The first book is called The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. This is a great story to read that could hit so many topics such as; self esteem, promoting kindness in others, building relationships. You can find it on Amazon HERE

You could even do a quick reflection activity like the one below.

The second book I wanted to share is called Rude Cakes. This book is sure to bring laughter and teach a lesson on bullying and manners. This would be great for small group or guidance lessons geared for students K-2 on respect. My own kids loved the illustrations.


Now to some of my favorite things this season!

1. There's actually 3 things in this pic that are my faves (of course other than sweet E)
Tassel Earrings ($2 at Walmart) A sweet teacher was wearing them at school and then texted to tell me they were now on clearance...that's a win. They are super light, too!
Lip Gloss: I am wearing Lipsense (one coat of Precious Topaz and two coats of Champagne Pink)-Message me if interested, my sister in law sells it!
Fall Hair: After my thyroid surgery, my hair has been falling out a bit. Highlights (with bleach) probably wasn't helping so I talked to my amazing hairstylist, Mallory, and she gave me a new, fall look that was probably better for my hair situation.
2. Fall Nights
There is nothing better than a fall night with a cool breeze making memories with your family. Even having our windows open and a cup of hot tea makes for an amazing "mommy break."



3. All the Fall Books and Coffee
I just love reading Fall books. It reminds me of all the Shared Reading as a Kindergarten/1st Grade teacher. We even pulled all of our fall books to put in a basket to read.

And when I say fall coffee, I don't mean anything fancy which will cost $5. I love a plain ol' coffee with non fat milk, 3 stevia, 3 pumps of pumpkin sauce, light whip, and pumpkin spice topping. It is so good and only around $3....it's my cheaper version of a pumpkin spice latte that isn't as sweet.

Hope you are all having the opportunity to enjoy all of the small moments this Fall season and that you are taking time to take care of YOU!

Melanie

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hello...it's me.

Hello, it's me....anyone else now have that Adele song in your head? I hope you have all had a wonderful start to the year. I can't believe it is mid September. Do you ever feel like you have so many ideas and things you want to do but you also want to just make sure you are on top of everything that you need to do? #storyofmylife

I often have ideas running through my head constantly about school whether I am driving, in the shower, cooking dinner...it never stops. Thank goodness for running to do lists.

I have a few things I would like to share with you all today (one of them is a bit embarrassing but we will get to that later).

Some of you had asked if I was going to share my office this school year. It is nothing fancy and, honestly, it is quite simple. This year I really just wanted to create a collaborative, open space. Last year, I hated to meet with staff members and students behind a big bulky desk.

Over the summer, my principal and I both wanted to clear out our offices. We wanted to make spaces that people would be comfortable in and not full of furniture that felt like barriers. I prefer to sit beside people when I meet with them or in a more casual setting. Money was limited so I had to work with what I had.

I found a standing desk (it adjusts and can be at a normal height or at a standing height). I used that as a little table between the two chairs I already had. We (well really my principal) took off part of my huge desk and turned it facing the wall so I could still have desk space and use it for storage.

It has made a huge difference! I must say that I love it!

 The decal on the door was created by the daughters of one of our sweet teachers.



 Now, my dream office would look like this. Can't all schools be like Google offices?



I could just slide on down to visit classrooms!!!

The other thing I wanted to share with you is a little embarrassing. I had shared my 2017-2018 Office pack over the summer (you can find that post HERE). If you purchased it, you may have noticed a whole bunch of letters....but I did not provide an example of what they were for. Luckily, our sweet counselor figured out the puzzle!! Below is what it looks like!

The other day, I noticed some kiddos playing with Pokemon cards at lunch. I must say I am amazed by how strong Pokemon is still going. I remember my little brother playing with those (and he is about to turn 27). I was thinking it would be so cool if there were Character Cards. Students could create their own characters with character traits. They could leave them for friends or for other students to find, they could collect them, or share with students who are displaying that trait.



I have this posted in my TPT store for FREE!!! Below are some examples. I wanted my kiddos to create them but they are not home, I am sure theirs would have been much more creative! Get your copy for FREE HERE!!!

I am so excited about my next post and I hope you come back to check it out. Have a wonderful, restful weekend!





Melanie

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Giveaway Winners and A FREEBIE

Good Monday Morning, friends! I hope you are all having an opportunity to refresh and renew before we begin planning to head back to school. I am not sure when all of you go back, I will return in 2 weeks and I must say I am excited although I will miss sleeping in past 5:30 a.m. and being with my family.

I just wanted to announce the winners from author Erainna Winnett's book giveaway. If your name is listed, please email me at: melroseacker@yahoo.com with your full name and mailing address so I can get the needed information to pass on to Erainna.Thank you again to the wonderful Ms. Winnett for sharing her inspiring story of how she began creating products and resources and for giving away books to some readers. What a great book to start off beginning of the year guidance lessons. If you missed her guest post, you can check it out HERE.



If you did not win, I don't want you to walk away empty handed, so I have posted a Feelings FREEBIE that I hope you can use in a guidance lesson on feelings (where students can fill in the blanks) or you can use it to refer to in small group or individual counseling. You can access the freebie HERE!!!


 I am excited to share my next post......it will be a little different that posts in the past but it will definitely be an eye opening one! Take care!


Melanie

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Educator Spotlight: Counselor and Author Erainna Winnett

I am so excited and grateful to have author and counselor Erainna Winnett as a guest on the blog today. Not only is she sharing a little about herself and her journey to becoming an author, but she is giving away 5 signed copies of her book Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High Fives. Read below to be inspired by Erainna and to see how you can have a chance to win!



First, thank you so much for having me as a guest blogger, I am honored to share my story with your readers. I’ve been in education for the past twenty-two years. After fifteen years in the classroom I felt a calling for something more—a deeper way to connect with and help children, which is how I discovered school counseling.

I moved from classroom teacher to school counselor in 2011 and absolutely fell in love. However, I soon discovered there weren’t a lot of up-to-date resources available for school counselors. After hearing me gripe about it for months my husband finally told me to write my own resources. Isn’t it nice to have someone who knows what you need before you do?

And so, I began researching self-publishing and taught myself the basics of publishing a book. To be honest, there were some costly mistakes: the cover for Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives was redesigned five times—YIKES—before I found one that I felt was ‘right’. Most students didn’t even know their school had a counselor, much less how one could help them.

The first week of school during my second year as a counselor I went into every classroom and read the Mrs. Joyce book. The children loved it and I received many thank-yous from teachers. Needless to say, the following week my office was constantly busy.

I continued listening to my students and knew that I needed to write other books to address individual needs. This launched me into the Helping Kids Heals therapeutic activity book set. I’m thrilled with how well all of these books have been received. Just last week, I woke up to an email from Ireland requesting copies of my books. Who would have ever thought a small-town Texas counselor-author could reach professionals across the ocean?

As educators, counselors are often the least familiar to parents, students and sometimes teachers. I hope my efforts have offered you some tools and helped you appreciate the power of your roles in our children’s lives. And I invite you to continue to add to our community. I wish you luck in the giveaway and hope you are having a relaxing, restful summer. All the best and Happy Counseling. Erainna



Thank you so much, Erainna, for being an advocate for the role of counselors and for using your creativity to provide resources for educators. You can check out a trailer for her book below and also don't forget to take a look at her other resources and books HERE.
If you would like to enter for your chance to win your own signed copy, all you have to do is comment in the post below for one entry. For an extra entry, you can share this link or the link from The Stylish School Counselor on FB and comment that you did in the comments. Good luck! Winners will be announced on the blog on Friday, July 5th!