OSCA 2020 Virtual Conference
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
November 6th & 7th

OSCA 2020 Virtual Conference - November 6th & 7th, 2020
Date:        November 6th & 7th, 2020
Location:  Virtual
Keynote speaker:  Dr. Johnny Lake
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President's Letter: Collaboration Is Crucial

By Sue Harte
Mental health collaboration – what an appropriate subject to reflect on right now. As have many of yours, my small school went through much trauma and loss this last year. We lost an alumnus, teacher, board member and student before COVID-19 hit. During the spring, after school moved to distance learning, three local students were in a car accident that left two of them dead and one in intensive care for several weeks. Just this weekend, after the start of school was delayed due to wildfires, we lost another student. Remember, I work in a school district that is very small and considered not only rural, but remote. I am the only school counselor and there are no mental health services for the community within the community. Folks travel more than 20 minutes to get counseling and mental health support.

So what happens when our school is hit with crisis? Thankfully, I have built relationships with different area counselors and mental health resources. My first few years, it would have been difficult to provide what my school needed. Now we have a group of counselors and other professionals in our region who happily support each other, both in person and virtually, as appropriate. I am so very grateful and humbled by the connections of care.

When talking to some of the school counselors in bigger districts, I discovered the same things to be true. Even though more resources are available to their schools, students and communities, they have worked to build relationships and networks that provide additional resources.

Making connections may seem easy enough for a school counselor; however, we don’t always consider what may be available outside of ourselves or our work world. Those connections won’t just happen because we have great counselor skills; often they are built when making the conscious effort to step out and be available. Putting yourself in positions to meet folks from other places, attending local meetings both in person or virtually, making calls to ask for services, going to trainings and conferences and interacting with other attendees is how it happens. Being available for the needs of others is another way to build resource connection. Then, when YOU need the help, it is available in ways you don’t expect.

Of course, there are always ethics and legalities to adhere to. Have a disclosure statement ready to give when working with students. Store records for the allotted amount of time mandated by both ODE and your school district. Keep the confidence of what is shared by anyone who chooses to talk with you. Report abuse – it’s mandatory. Be mindful of what you write down, and what you record virtually, as these records are open to subpoena by the courts. If you don’t know or aren’t sure about something, ask someone who might help provide the answers. Bottom line: Be available to others, be open to new relationships, meet needs where you can.

Contact Sue Harte, OSCA president, at oscapresident@oscainc.org.

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