On January 30, 2015, SSWAA Government Relations staff, Libby Nealis and Myrna Mandlawitz, with representatives from AFT, NEA, NASP, ASCA, NASSP and NCLD were at the White House East Room as First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the School Counselor of the Year Award Ceremony at the White House for the first time. (Myrna pictured with Joel Packer, Executive Director of the Committee for Education Funding and John Riley from NEA.)
Last July, the First Lady spoke at the American School Counselor's Association Conference and stated that “school counseling is a necessity to ensure that all our young people get the education they need to succeed in today’s economy.” Her appearance at the conference kicked off her new initiative Reach Higher, http://www.whitehouse.gov/reach-higher which aligns with the President's "North Star" goal — that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. The initiative includes "Supporting high school counselors who can help more kids get into college." After decades of celebrating the Teacher of the Year at the White House, Mrs. Obama promised at that time to bring the celebration of the School Counselor of the Year to the White House as well. At the awards ceremony, Michelle Obama noted: “Every day, our school counselors help young people become the people they’re meant to be and achieve what they’re meant to achieve, what they were put on this Earth to achieve. And that is truly an awesome responsibility and it’s also a tremendous privilege.”
Myrna and Libby have met with the Office of the First Lady and the Executive Director of the Reach Higher initiative. We have shared with them the amazing work of our members and strongly encouraged them to consider how they might recognize school social workers for the important roles and life changing contributions they make in students' lives everyday. Think of how many needs must be adequately met before that student can even get to high school and consider reaching higher. We will continue to promote this message and seek additional recognition for school social workers. Please stay involved and support SSWAA so that we can continue to share your challenges and success stories. Better yet, come to Washington this summer and show our national education policy leaders what school social workers are all about!
SSWAA Legislative Advocacy Team
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