DePaul graduate program first in Illinois to affiliate with NCTSC Initiative

DePaul University’s graduate school counseling program is the first institution in Illinois and the 24th in the nation to affiliate with The Education Trust’s National Center for Transformative School Counseling (NCTSC) Initiative, bringing national recognition to the program.

The distinction recognizes DePaul’s school counseling program as a national leader in the school counseling profession, says Melissa Ockerman, assistant professor in the School of Education.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization promotes a new vision of school counseling in which school counselors advocate for educational equity, access to a rigorous college and career-readiness curricula, and academic success for all students. It aims to transform school counselors into powerful agents of change to help close the gaps in opportunity and achievement for low-income students and students of color.

“As the first institution in Illinois and one of only 24 nationwide to receive this honor, we are proud to be affiliated with The Education Trust’s NCTSC,” Ockerman says. “DePaul’s school counseling program, in concert with its Vincentian mission, is a natural fit with NCTSC’s underlying principles of social justice and advocacy. We strive to prepare school counselors to become agents of change and key educational leaders in their schools and communities who work to ensure the success of all students, particularly those who have been historically underserved.”

In order to qualify for the recognition, Ockerman says school counseling faculty revised curricula and field experiences to align with the five core Transformed School Counseling competencies: leadership, advocacy, using and assessing data, teaming and collaboration, and counseling. Faculty also secured a partnership with Chicago Public Schools and convened an advisory council that comprises current students, alumni, counseling faculty, CPS school counseling leaders, practicing school counselors and supervisors to discuss current program practices, the vision and mission of the program, and revised admission criteria.

Affiliation with the national organization is a draw for employers when hiring school counselors as well as for potential school counseling students, Ockerman says.

Barbara Karpouzian, director of secondary school counseling at Chicago Public Schools, says she asks for a list of graduates from DePaul’s program so she can recommend them to her high school principals.

“These future counselors are passionate about serving our schools,” Karpouzian says. “They understand that the paradigm has shifted and that we live in a high-tech, data-driven world with identifiable achievement gaps that need to be addressed. Currently, 11 percent of our counselors are DePaul graduates and we look forward to increasing that number. It is my goal to ensure that we hire quality counselors. Our principals will receive a portfolio of DePaul resumes with my recommendation for employment.”

The School of Education’s graduate counseling program is one of the largest counseling programs in Illinois and one of the most sought-after master’s degree programs at DePaul. School counseling is the largest of the program’s three tracks, which also include community counseling and college student development. For more information about the school counseling program, please contact Ockerman at (773) 325-8646 or mockerma@depaul.edu.

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