• May 09, 2020 5:50 PM | Anonymous

    Summer Self Care Tips By Laura Ressor

    From being specific about self-compassion to giving yourself grace, from limiting your exposure of news to walking barefoot on the grass (try it!), Laura shares her best approaches for taking care of yourself in these difficult times.


    Use your time at home to do something kind for yourself! Maybe that is pickingup an instrument that you put down years ago or finishing a painting you've been putting off. Maybe you can express kindness to yourself by talking to someone who helps calm you down. Self-compassion is important. But know that all of the feelings you are feeling are totally normal. We are all feeling some way about the current state of things.

    Give yourself some grace
    Remind yourself that it is ok to feel _______ (insert feeling in the blank). Allow yourself a set amount of time to feel _______ and then get back to being productive. Example: "Self, I am going to give you 10 minutes to worry and feel anxious. After that 10 minutes I'm going to read some of my book."

    Limit your intake of news
    The news is terrifying because the world is a scary place right now. If you are particularly sensitive to the media, be mindful of how much you take in. You can also set a limit on this as well. 

    Want to read the rest of Laura's self care tips? Members check your e-mail for our members only newsletter with 3 more tips from Laura

    You can learn more about Laura here.

  • May 06, 2020 11:32 AM | Anonymous

    From the Chair: Finding Our


    By Laura Filtness

    It’s hard to put into words the many emotions we are all feeling right now, and some days it’s even harder to process all of this. Undoubtedly, many of us are struggling with balancing our jobs and families, while processing waves of feeling overwhelmed, fearful and unsure.

    As the summer starts, we know that this will be a summer like none other. Our self-care is more important than ever and so this issue I’d like to focus on all the opportunities and joys that are the flip side of this tragic coin.

    Here’s what I am grateful for right now:

    • The extraordinary Laura Ressor for sharing her self-care tips with us. These are perfect for counselors, students, and families alike. We are lucky to have her in Tennessee!
    • Our members for coming together via Zoom meetings, social media, phone calls and emails. We are stronger together!
    • The TSCA board for staying positive and optimistic. They continue to plan and work together to make TSCA better than ever.
    • ASCA! The amount of resources and guidance they provide is priceless. Specifically, I’d like to thank Leisl Moriarty, who answers my endless emails while bouncing a baby on her knee and with a smile on her face.
    • Our first responders and heroes. Thank you to those who have worked and now work on the front lines. Thank you to their families for the bravery as they see their loved ones going to work.
    • My puppies, who wake up every morning thrilled with life and continue to allow me to dress them up while we are stuck indoors.
    • My fellow Knox County school counselors who help me find perspective and understanding.
    • My social worker, Rebekah Lankford, who tirelessly works for our families to ensure their basic needs are met.
    • My administration, who understand and get the role of a school counselor; because of this I can thrive, which in turn allows our students to thrive.
    • The writers and creators of amazing comedies like Schitts Creek, who brought me laugher through some tough times.
    • Time – time to plan for next year, write lessons, learn new technology and connect with friends and family.
    What are you grateful for? I encourage you to find a mindful moment each day to find joy, express gratitude, and breathe.

  • April 29, 2020 3:38 PM | Anonymous

    Dr. Whitney Kovach is the School Counselor/Behavior Facilitator at McDowell Elementary in Columbia, TN. She has experience as a classroom teacher, school counselor at all levels and has also served as Supervisor of Pupil Support in a previous district. Her expertise is in trauma-informed, restorative school climate and culture, behavior replacement, and college and career readiness at all grade levels.

    As a progressive and innovative leader within the field of counseling, Dr Kovach wasted no time in adapting counseling and student services to meet the needs of her community, students and families. Through a learning management system (LMS), Seesaw, Dr. Kovach posts weekly counseling and student services newsletters full of resources, weekly student and parent check-ins, and social emotional learning lessons. This platform has enabled on-going contact with students and families. Dr. Kovach also set-up a remote office phone number through Google Voice that allows parents and students the ability to text or call her. This allows parents, who have no internet access, the ability to receive counseling and student services updates in order to stay connected to someone at the school level.

    Weekly newsletters are full or resources for families to seek free mental health services, financial assistance, and other resources to support them during this time.

    Dr. Kovach quotes Brene Brown, “We are hardwired to connect with others, its what gives purpose and meaning our lives, and without it there is suffering.” This is a very difficult time for our state and country. A pandemic crisis affects us all, regardless of socioeconomics. Parents, guardians, and community need support during this time. For this very reason, Dr. Kovach sent every family and student a card with contact information and a message of encouragement.

    Dr. Kovach utilizes social media platforms to share information with her students, community, and families. Creating catchy story boards to post on social media is critical and vital to maintain connection with student, community, and families. She created a ‘chalk your walk’ campaign for Maury County to participate in to lift spirits, inspire creativity, and to provide a family activity.

    Most recently, Dr. Kovach has been dropping signs in student’s yards while she is doing essential shopping. These signs encourage and foster relationships and engagement with the school and our learning management system to keep students on track. The parents share pictures with Dr. Kovach, and the students and families enjoy seeing their students surprised.

    Dr. Kovach has compiled a list of resources and effective strategies that she has employed throughout this unprecedented school closure and has been sharing them across the state with other counselors and school administrators. Dr. Kovach is passionate about helping students, families, communities, and her state develop effective practices around mental health, behavior replacement, crisis management, and helping all students become happy, healthy, and productive citizens within society.

    You can connect with Dr. Kovach through any social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin @whitneykovach). You can also reach her by email at

  • April 02, 2020 10:13 AM | Anonymous

    Dear Counselors,

    As many of you continue to navigate these difficult times, we are continuing to curate resources and offer webinars to help you navigate this new reality. I also hope that each of you is finding a balance between work, self care, and family time. I know that I'm still working on this juggling act.

    It was so wonderful to see so many smiling faces during our first Zoom meet up. I also appreciate your patience as I navigate new technology. It was such a success, that we can plan offer more meet ups in the future for us to talk, brainstorm, and share a friendly smile with our counseling community.

    I also know that your email inbox is probably full right now. Mine is bursting at the seams with PD opportunities, Zoom call reminders, and fun activities to do while staying safe at home. For this reason we are compiling a list of webinars, PD's, resources and more on our Professional Development page. Please continue to check it and follow us on social media for regular updates.

    As always, thank you for trusting us to help you with your work and for your tireless efforts on behalf of your students.

    Stay happy and healthy,

    Laura Filtness

    TSCA Chair of the Board



    TSCA Webinar Series 

    Boost Your Program With Mindfulness

    Part 1: Tuesday, April 14, at 5pm EST

    Register for Part 1 with Laura Filtness here.

    Part 2: Tuesday, April 28, at 5 pm ET

    Register for Part 2 with Tanya Harris here.

    30% of children have problem self regulating, which impacts the classroom learning environment for all. Learn how to incorporate comprehensive mindfulness and resilience practices into your MTSS program that not only helps children with high ACES scores, but improves the entire school climate. 

    After attending this session you should be able to:

    •  Provide and explain specific and practical strategies to incorporate mindfulness and resiliency into the elementary setting.
    •  Discuss why mindfulness and resilience is relevant to student development and the school setting and its impact on neuroscience and brain development.
    •  Examine the implications of mindfulness in the elementary setting and the benefits it has for all stakeholders.


    Help for Middle Tennessee

    As you know many of our colleagues and students were recently impacted by the deadly tornados in Middle TN. Anyone wishing to help tornado victims can make a donation to the Community Foundation Emergency Response Fund

    Social Media Take Over

    We hope you have been enjoying all the fun we have been having over on Instagram. Our IG takeovers have been a fun way to our leaders and members to connect with each other and share their tips for success. If you are interested in taking over our social media let us know.

    Professional Development Opportunities

    There are so many wonderful ways to spend this "extra" time at home. Learn about all the current opportunities on our Professional Development page.

  • March 24, 2020 10:51 AM | Anonymous

    Dear members,

    What a strange and confusing time for educators, parents, and counselors everywhere. We know that each one of you is facing a different and difficult challenge right now. As you know, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 (coronavirus) a pandemic. The stress of preparing for this virus (and for some, dealing with it directly) may understandably increase worry and anxiety in our students, staff, families, and communities.

    As schools work to safeguard student health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, school counselors are challenged to meet student needs both at school and outside school in the event of closures. Please make sure you reach out to your district leaders for guidance and policies regarding reaching out to students to provide resources and services. It is imperative that you follow the directives of your county and district. 

    Here you will find a number of resources for talking to students about the pandemic, including encouraging parents to limit their children's exposure to news media, providing a calming influence to students as needed, and helping students address their fears.

    We want to support you as you protect your health and the health of those around you. To that end, we have accumulated resources and tips for you to use and share with others in your networks.

    General Information

    Support for Schools

    Mental Health Care

    Depending on your district's safety protocol, a school may want to appoint a multidisciplinary team to create plans so services can continue in the event of a shutdown. This team should include an administrator, school counselor, lead teachers, social worker/psychologist, and school nurse, plus other personnel deemed necessary. ASCA has also developed guidance for school counselors to continue to meet students’ needs in the event of a school closure. 

    Any plan should involve comprehensive school counseling services that would be provided while taking into account legal as well as ethical concerns. Because school counselors do not provide ongoing therapy, the team should develop a list of available outside mental health services and share it with parents and families. The team should also address equity access issues in any coordinated plan as well.

    TSCA's goal over the next few weeks is to meet you where you are and to support you as best we can. We also want to be mindful of the amount of information and resources we share, during an already overwhelming time. Here is what we are currently offering:

    • Regularly scheduled Professional Development opportunities so we can continue to learn from home.

    • Self-care support for our members. 

    • Continued resource share and updates from ASCA via our social media and newsletters.

    • Engaging and exciting social media takeovers from your board and our members. Follow us onInstagram!  Do you want to take over our Instagram for the day? Reach out to us for a takeover day.

    As much as we are here to support our students, please also know that we are here to support you as well. Should you feel as though you simply need a listening ear, a thought partner, or a problem-solver, please know that we are here for you. Wishing you peace and comfort in knowing that we are all in this - together! 

    Your TSCA Board

    Updates from the Department of Education

    The U.S. Department of Education announced that students affected by school closures due to the pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-20 school year. Upon a proper request, the department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students because of the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year. Waiver requests must come from the state. Because student performance, as measured by assessments, is required for statewide accountability systems, any state that receives a one-year waiver may also receive a waiver from the requirement that testing data be used in the statewide accountability system.

    Additionally, the department announced that Federal Student Aid (FSA) borrowers who hold federal student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period of at least 60 days. These borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency. All federal student loan servicers are required to grant an administrative forbearance for a period of at least 60 days (beginning March 13, 2020) to any borrower with a federally held loan who requests one. Borrowers should contact their loan servicer online or by phone. 

    The Department of Education has released new information clarifying that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. This new resource from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) explains that as a school district takes necessary steps to address the health, safety, and well-being of all its students and staff, educators can use distance learning opportunities to serve all students.

    Keep up with all Department of Education updates on this website. Student privacy information related to FERPA requirements can be found here.  Additionally, if you need information about COVID-19 that is not covered on the website, email the Department of Education at

    Internship Ideas

    We know that many of you are concerned with how to help your intern and practicum students during this time. Here are a few ideas of virtual supervision activities: 

    • Create a “School Counselor Bible” of Top 25 topics at their level and resources for those areas in a Live Binder or Google Drive

    • Contact Jill Cook to use the RAMP portal to have students evaluate and review RAMP applications. 

    • Watch and discuss a webinar together.

    TSCA Professional Development Partnership

    TSCA is excited to share our latest partnership with the Center for Educational Media and Professional Development (CEM/PD) in the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) College of Education. As part of a larger initiative, the PK-12 Collaborative at MTSU, the School Counselor Collaborative will be the second professional development program created by CEM/PD. In 2017, CEM started the successful ELL Collaborative supporting educators who work with English language learners. To date, more than 300 ELL educators from 47 school districts have participated in the ELL Collaborative.

    Using a similar model, the School Counselor Collaborative at MTSU will be:

    • Composed of school counseling practitioners and leaders in PK-12 schools in Tennessee

    • Participant driven, with participants identifying session topics based on their needs and serving as presenters to share strategies, materials, programs and technology that have been successful for them

    • Scheduled based on input from school counselors to identify optimal dates for sessions

    • Beneficial for districts with fewer resources and staff to support professional development

    • Promoting professional support networks and individual contacts across districts which is beneficial for specialized practitioners

    • Available at no to low cost for participants

    The dates for the School Counselor Collaborative Summer Academy will be June 23-24, 2020, at Middle Tennessee State University. This year’s focus will be “The Dysregulated Child.” Beginning in 2020-2021, CEM will offer multiple professional development sessions throughout the school year. The sessions will be recorded and available for all school counselors across the state to access at any time.

    TSCA is committed to providing high-quality professional development for school counselors across Tennessee, and we are excited to partner with CEM at MTSU to make this commitment a reality! Check out the TSCA website and social media for future details.

    Present to Inspire, Empower, Embrace

    National Center for Youth Issues (NCYI) is looking for presentations for the School Counselor and Administrator Leadership Institute (SCALI) that will help to build the capacity of Tennessee school counselors and administrators to help our students be ready for the next step on their academic and social/emotional journey.  NCYI will convene a committee to review and select Institute sessions. You will be contacted by NCYI, the organization managing this Institute, to let you know if your proposal is accepted. The deadline for submission is May 15, 2020.  Learn more and submit your proposal

    Mark your calendar for the Tennessee SCALI: September 13-15, 2020. Join TSCA to be inspired, empowered and embraced!

    ACES: The Role of Life Experiences in Shaping Brain Development

    Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on our lifelong health and opportunity. So, early experiences are an important public health issue. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can put young people at significant risk for substance use disorders and can impact prevention and substance use recovery efforts.

    This is a one-hour training by public health experts in Tennessee on their curriculum Building Strong Brains: The Role of Life Experiences in Shaping Brain Development. It’s an insightful approach community and education leaders can implement to increase protective factors and reduce the impact of ACEs for children and adolescents.

     Visit additional ACEs resources. Building Strong Brains is supported by an investment of the Tennessee Department of health and its partners including the School of Social Work, University of Memphis.

    Help for Middle Tennessee

    As you know many of our colleagues and students were recently impacted by the deadly tornados in Middle TN. Anyone wishing to help tornado victims can make a donation to the Community Foundation Emergency Response Fund


  • January 05, 2020 3:47 PM | Anonymous

    The School Counselor’s Guide to Surviving the First Year offers a comprehensive look into the first-year school counseling experience. 

    This practical guide includes topics from internship to professional development from an intimate perspective within the context of real-life scenarios. Drawing from personal experiences, journal articles, textbooks, and excerpts by numerous professional school counselors, it fuses what a school counseling trainee learns in their graduate program and the field experience they get into one unique guide. Emphasizing hands-on approaches, this volume offers personal as well as professional steps toward success in the ins and outs of counseling. 

    This book is a valuable toolkit for the developmental journey of school counselors in-training and beginning school counselors.

    Interested in purchasing? You can find the book at:


  • January 01, 2020 9:01 PM | Anonymous

    Dear TSCA members,

    This past year the executive board of TSCA took the courageous step of becoming their own independent organization. 

    This change parallels the transitions made by our national associations, the American School Counseling Association and the American Counseling Association. Over time, the two organizations evolved to the point where a more independent relationship makes sense. Currently, there are only 10 states that are still affiliated with their state counseling association and of that, only 4 that have a financial connection.

    As the role of a School Counselor evolves, TSCA is evolving with it. We are devoted to meeting the unique needs of School Counselors in TN while maintaining our invaluable relationship with the professional counselors in our state.

     With the recent changes at the state DOE in regards to School Counseling, we are also committed to staying on top of any proposed bills or policies that may impact our profession. Many states, with guidance from ASCA, organize a day on the hill to advocate for School Counselors. In fact, states such as Arizona have been very successful in lobbying for School Counselors with guidance from ASCA. If this is something you are interested in doing with us, we would love to have you help us. 

    This thoughtful transition allows us to meet the needs of Tennessee School Counselors by providing more services such as webinars, specialized conferences, professional development opportunities, an updated website with news from across the state, and lower, more affordable dues. It has also allowed us to create a simpler and more seamless way for new members to join and current members to renew. 

    TSCA is committed to you as a member. We look forward to offering you increased professional development offerings and benefits in the coming months.  

    If you joined TSCA while we were affiliated with TCA, then you are still a current, active TSCA member. TSCA dues for professionals are $25 and $10 for students and retired professionals. If you have questions or concerns about your membership, please contact Carla Christian at

    We are excited to start the new year by entering the next chapter of our TSCA journey, and even more excited that you are coming along for the ride.

    Happy New Year,

    Laura Filtness

    TSCA Chair of the Board

    Celebrate National School Counseling Week, Feb. 3–7

    This years theme is "School Counselors: Helping Build Better Humans". You can find everything you need on the National School Counseling Week resource page on the ASCA website, including details about the new photo/video challenge, download the new signs as well as the promotional toolkit to share with your school and community partners. 

    Stay on top of all the National School Counseling Week and School Counselor of the Year activities with this event calendar. And, be sure to follow and use #NSCW2020 on social media. 

  • December 02, 2019 4:24 PM | Anonymous

    Jordan Tatum Receives TN School Counselor of the Year Award

    The Tennessee School Counseling Association is pleased to announce that Jordan Tatum has been recognized as the TN school counselor of the year by the American School Counselor Association. The ASCA School Counselor of the Year program (#SCOY2020) honors the professionals who devote their careers to serving as advocates for the nation’s students, helping them achieve success in school and in life. State school counselor of the year honorees were selected based on several criteria, including: school counseling innovations, exemplary comprehensive school counseling programs, leadership and advocacy initiatives and contributions to student outcomes.


    “The School Counselor of the Year award is an esteemed recognition for our profession,” said Richard Wong, Ed.D., ASCA executive director. “The research is clear: school counselors have a significant impact on students’ academic achievement, social/emotional development and postsecondary planning. This award highlights their dedication, contribution and excellence.”

    The state school counselor of year recipients will travel to Washington, D.C., to be honored and formally recognized at a black‐tie gala on Jan. 30, 2020, along with the national School Counselor of the Year and finalists.

  • December 02, 2019 4:23 PM | Anonymous

    If you joined TSCA while we were affiliated with TCA, then you are still a current, active TSCA member. You will have an opportunity to renew with a check or online payment at TSCA dues for professionals are $25 and $10 for students and retired professionals. 

    If you have questions or concerns about your membership please contact Carla Christian at

  • November 07, 2019 6:59 PM | Anonymous

    Researchers from The University of Memphis and the University of South Florida are investigating the impact of the TN State Board Policy 5.103, that established new guidelines for school counselor ratios and mandated that school counselors spend 80% of their time in direct service to students. Our goal is to gather survey data from at least 100 TN school counselors, which we can utilize for on-going advocacy efforts to ensure school counselors are being deployed in schools in roles and functions that maximize their impact upon student success. You will receive a $10 e-gift card for answering all questions on the survey, which we anticipate will take around 10-15 minutes to complete. (Payment limited to the first 150 participants with completed surveys, and we will add a note to the first page of the survey as soon as we see that the maximum amount of money has been allocated.) Please click here for the link to the survey:



    After you complete the survey, you will be directed to another link to enter your email and e-gift card selection: Amazon, Starbucks, or Target. Be sure to click on the blue arrow button at the bottom of the page to submit your email and gift card selection.

    For a few TSCA members who completed the survey at the TCA conference, there was a glitch in the link to the e-gift card that has now been fixed. If you are one of the school counselors who completed the survey but did not receive the e-gift card link, please email Michelle Brasfield ( directly on how to obtain access. The others who were able to enter their selection should have received their e-gift cards Saturday (11/16).

    Thank you for your time, and please let us know if you have any questions.



    Michelle Welch Brasfield, EdD, LPSC

    Assistant Professor, Coordinator of the School Counseling Program
    Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Research

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