Teacher Retention Bonus Response from the
Iowa School Counselor Association
In response to the recent announcement of those eligible for the $1,000 Teacher Retention Bonus announced by Governor Reynolds' office, the Iowa School Counselor Association has crafted the following statement:
The governing board of the Iowa School Counselor Association applauds efforts to recognize those who have provided necessary services to Iowa’s preK-12 students throughout the pandemic. We are dismayed that school counselors and other education professionals recognized by the Department of Education have been overlooked and under-appreciated in this effort. School counselors have supported students prior to the pandemic, since it began, and as it continues.
We support students every day by teaching classroom lessons, working with small groups, and meeting individually with students. When schools closed in March 2020, school counselors did not stop doing this: Our work shifted to a virtual realm, meeting with students online instead of in-person. We created school-wide plans for maintaining connections when we were physically isolated from each other, and we provided information and resources to parents/guardians about how to support children and address the very real fears the pandemic inspired.
When schools reopened, school counselors were integral parts of reentry planning, ensuring social emotional learning and student mental health were priorities. Whether students returned to in-person learning or continued to learn virtually, we worked to balance the needs of students with concerns for our own and our colleagues’ physical and emotional health. We continued to support school-wide efforts in addressing social-emotional learning, provided tools to classroom teachers and others as the school community—students, faculty and staff, and administrators— worked to rebuild connections upon returning to our buildings, and maintained connections with students learning virtually.
School counselors provide immediate support for mental health crises and refer students and families to outside agencies when the need is beyond the scope of the license granted by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. This need is very real: The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Children’s Hospital Association have declared the condition of child and adolescent mental health a national emergency, and the CDC points to a 31% increase in adolescent emergency room visits due to suspected suicide attempts from 2019 to 2020. The National Center for School Mental Health tells us that children and youth are most likely to receive mental health support in schools. School counselors often coordinate these efforts.
While addressing emerging social-emotional and mental health concerns, school counselors did not stop addressing more typical academic, social-emotional, and career exploration needs of students. We continue to identify individual and systemic barriers to student success and work with students, families, and colleagues to remove them. As important members of the school community, and as professionals providing support for students as they face the ordinary and extraordinary stressors of childhood and young adulthood, we ask Governor Reynolds and Director Lebo to award retention bonuses to ALL of those who work with students.
Iowa School Counselor Association, 6919 Vista Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50266 www.iaschoolcounselor.org | firstname.lastname@example.org