MSCA President's Message

Judy Williams
MSCA President

Leadership: It's Not One Size Fits All
My name is Judy Williams, and I am honored to serve as the 2018-2019 Michigan School Counselor Association President. In my time on the MSCA Governing Board, I have been amazed by the selfless volunteer board members who take time away from their jobs and families to serve as leaders for our profession.  The growth and success of MSCA is due, in large part, to this group of talented and passionate professionals. 

I am fortunate to serve with MSCA Past President, Tony Warren, as my mentor. In his leadership letter of 2016-17, he asserted his belief that a title isn’t needed for one to be a leader. I believe that not only is a title unnecessary, but leadership isn’t a one size fits all proposition.  Leaders need not be the big and bold individual of the group, the most well known, or the most accomplished. I believe a leader lies in each one of us. Some leaders are comfortable speaking before a large audience while others would cringe with stage fright. Other leaders surround themselves with talented co workers, and provide the guidance for each to soar in their areas of expertise for the good of the organization. Some leaders work in isolation, best leading themselves to create new and innovative ideas.

Jim Collins, author of the national bestseller Good to Great, describes the top echelon of leadership as that of a Level 5 Leader. The characteristics of these leaders do not emerge overnight, and some leaders may never rise to this level.  However, Collins found these leaders to have humility, working for the success of their team or organization versus their own glory. They share credit for their success and do not shy away from taking blame when mistakes are made.  They are fearless when making decisions, but may appear shy to the casual observer. 
Compare this to the work of school counselors. We give credit to our students for their hard work despite the untold hours we may have spent developing supportive interventions. We shy away from the limelight as we see ourselves as peacemakers and conflict resolvers. We work for the good of our individual students, school community, and society as a whole and sacrifice our own lunches and bathroom breaks to do so.  We break down barriers to access and challenge the status quo for marginalized students. Sounds a lot like a Level 5 Leader to me.
The American School Counselor Association Nation Model incorporates the theme of leadership along with advocacy, collaboration, and systemic change. It is the leadership of school counselors that provides the impetus for the other three themes to occur.  It is the bedrock of our profession. Professional school counselors are called upon to be leaders in many ways
  • To lead the charge for comprehensive, developmentally appropriate PK-12 data driven counseling programs for all students.
  • To identify achievement gaps and work for equity of access for underrepresented populations.
  • To address students’ ever changing needs through evidence based programs.
  • To promote school safety, not solely through brick and mortar enhancements, but through the creation of welcoming, accepting, school environments for all students.
  • To educate stakeholders at the local, state, and national level on the necessity of school counselors with recommended caseloads of 1:250. 
  • To work with administrators to minimalize or eliminate non appropriate duties and responsibilities which take school counselors away from providing direct services to students.
  • To advocate for each student to find the right post secondary career pathway leading to life long satisfaction and success.
The Michigan School Counselor Governing Board is committed to meeting the needs of our members regardless of your school setting.  Whether you are one of a large counseling team with small caseloads or the only school counselor in an isolated rural area or somewhere in between, MSCA seeks to be your first and primary source for professional development. We are the only true and united voice for school counseling in the state of Michigan. Our Fall Conference will be filled with energy, vitality, and enthusiasm as over 250 counselors come together to discover how to best lead their school counseling programs into the future.
So, maybe you were your high school class president or team captain. Or maybe the thought of leadership was always for someone else.  Regardless of your leadership history, I invite you all to join me in a year of leadership self discovery.  After all, the most important person you will ever lead will be yourself.
Promoting the leader in us all,
Judy Williams