This is the third in a series of school counselor advocacy stories that will run online as a counterpart to the school advocacy stories running in Counseling Today’s Counselor, Educator, Advocate column. To read the first post in this series, click here. To read the second post in this series, click here.
Laura Gallo, a school counselor at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa recognizes firsthand the complexities in her profession. She has worked in challenging situations, such as with students who have abusive parents but refuse to leave their homes in order to care for their younger siblings. She has seen resiliency and self-advocacy in students who take on school leadership positions after experiencing bullying because of their sexual orientation. She has worked with students with learning disabilities who are so driven to succeed, they go above and beyond the regular workload requirements with very few accommodations, proving their immense capabilities.
As a professional school counselor Gallo has listened, encouraged, focused on strengths and created opportunities. She points out that school counseling advocacy work stems from having a visible presence in the school. She reaches out to students and is available when a student needs help. In many situations, she relies on her resourcefulness when needing to find students access to computers outside of the school or quiet environments for homework completion outside of a chaotic home. Gallo says this about being a student advocate.
“The many roles a school counselor plays can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing,” she says, “but keeping our role as an advocate at the forefront, helps us keep our focus. “Doing what is best for kids is always the top priority.”