When the final bell rings for Middle Georgia students, they empty lockers, pack textbooks and catch buses home. The school day ends for them, but begins for their counselors.

On Thursday evenings, in room 150 at Fort Valley State University’s Warner Robins Center, Dr. Teah Moore teaches an advanced course in career counseling. The assistant professor of school counseling has19 students; all are counselors in nearby districts seeking a specialist degree. The new program, which began this fall, was recently approved by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

“Our aim, in FVSU’s specialist degree program, is to motivate [counselors] to become leaders in schools,” says Moore. “We want them to change the perception of school counselors and encourage them to be leaders that help develop other school counselors.” Moore says students are taught how to empower parents to assume a proactive role in their child’s education when it comes to academics, financial aid and personal responsibility. Counselors also help students deal with the causes and effects of absenteeism and behavior issues.

“This program is very scholarly, and also very hands on,” says Dr. Jerry Mobley, chair of FVSU’s school counselor educator program. The degree program combines classroom and interactive projects. The overall objective is to sharpen counselors’ skills to meet Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goals for teachers and students.

The Georgia Board of Regents approved FVSU’s College of Education proposal to offer the Ed.S. program in 2008, when the school counselor educator program was reinstated.

“We got in touch with dozens of our graduates who had expressed an interest,” says Mobley. “We formed a committee (with students and professors). Students helped design the program and recruited potential students, school counselors from the Middle Georgia region.

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