National School Counseling Week is set for Feb. 5-9, 2024, in an effort to show appreciation for the contributions of school counselors across the U.S. school system. Many Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School students have graduated with counseling degrees and are now making a difference in the lives of students.
Two Professional School Counseling program graduates, Christopher Fake (’19) and Michaela Landis (’20) currently tag-team counseling responsibilities at Spring Grove Area High School (SGAHS) in York County, Pa. Michaela works with students whose last names begin with A-F, while Chris works with students M-R.
Chris has worked in the Spring Grove Area School District for five years. In addition to his responsibilities as a school counselor, he also oversees the school’s college and career initiatives, which has not only allowed him to build relationships with students but also with local business partners, colleges, trade schools and career advocates.
“At its core, my job is to build relationships and advocate,” Chris said. “I do what I do because I know that I’m making a difference in our students’ lives.”
He said his favorite part of the day is welcoming students into the building in the morning. “It starts my day off right,” he said, “but it also reaffirms each morning why I have been placed here to do this work.”
FURTHER READING: Meet another LBC graduate and school counselor, Grace (Cruz ’20) Callirgos, who works along her LBC alumnus principal, Dr. Scott Long (’06). Read more…
Michaela’s motivation is much the same as Chris’. “I have said this multiple times, but working as a school counselor is truly an honor,” she expressed. “We have a unique role in the school as advocates for our students; the role of the school counselor cannot be understated.”
Michaela has served the high school students at SGAHS for over two years. In addition to supporting students academically, mentally and socially, her role also entails organizing tutoring services, working with outside educational placements and coordinating advanced placement testing. She’s also currently working to streamline the school’s mental health processes and procedures.
“We hold many roles as school counselors,” Michaela said, “but it all comes down to supporting our students, and that is my goal on a daily basis. Our relationships with students and families are the heartbeat of all we do.”
Both Michaela and Chris earned their MEd in Professional School Counseling from LBC | Capital and appreciated the practical, hands-on learning experience the program provided. “My professors had real-world knowledge of school counseling programs and gave us up-to-date information and experiences,” said Chris.
He recalls a piece of advice from Professor Melissa Boas, Program Director for Professional School Counseling Psychology, which has stood the test of time. She encouraged her students to always be willing to say yes and jump into new experiences and opportunities. “That has led me to be greatly involved at every level within my building and outside my building,” Chris shared. “That advice has never let me down.”
While the school counseling landscape can vary from district to district, Michaela said that LBC | Capital’s program reinforced that her focus was the students, no matter where she found herself after graduation, and that gave her peace of mind.
“Our supervisor, Melissa Boas, was instrumental in helping me to not only prepare for the field of school counseling but also helped me to grow in confidence as a professional,” Michaela said, adding that she benefitted from practical training, hands-on field experience, interview and resume-building strategies and supportive professors. An additional benefit of LBC’s Professional School Counseling program is that it is taught from a biblical worldview, which Michaela appreciated.
“Understanding our role as Christians in a secular world was very important to me,” she continued. “I truly believe that God has called us to work in the public schools to bring His love and light to a group of students who are trying to find their way.”
The professors within LBC’s program helped Michaela integrate a biblical worldview into her desire to serve students in a secular school setting. “Having this internal focus has allowed me to continue to work hard for my students and families even in situations that seem hopeless.”
Both Michaela and Chris expressed how vital the support of their professors was throughout their time at LBC | Capital.
“They pushed me when I needed to be pushed and supported me when I needed support,” said Chris. “My professors expected the best from me, accepted nothing less and encouraged me to meet my greatest potential.”