National School Counseling Week is celebrated Feb. 7-11, coinciding with the announcement that the Alexandria City High School (ACHS) Department of School Counseling was named a Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). Under the leadership of Director of School Counseling Melissa Deak, the department went through a rigorous process to earn this designation. With ACHS securing RAMP status, this achievement highlights the contributions made by our school counselors and the impact they have in helping students achieve success in education and planning for their future.
“I am so proud of our school counselors who are dedicated to helping our students succeed and always go the extra mile. Earning this designation as a RAMP school is a tremendous achievement and yet another indication of the high-caliber team of counselors within ACHS and their commitment to our students,” said ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas.
According to the association: “The Recognized ASCA Model Program identified schools committed to delivering comprehensive, data-informed school counseling programs. These programs, which align with the ASCA National Model, exemplify school counseling at its best.” Fewer than 50% of schools are awarded the RAMP designation the first time that they apply, as was the case for ACHS. In order to fulfill the stringent RAMP application requirements, the school was required to use one entire academic year to collect the data and information needed.
In order to earn the RAMP designation, school counseling departments have to meet certain standards that will benefit the students, explained Deak. Under these criteria, the department is required to do the following:
- Use data to inform their decision-making and subsequent actions.
- Systematically deliver academic, social-emotional and post-secondary services to all students.
- Implement a developmentally appropriate curriculum rooted in the mindsets and behaviors all students need to be ready and successful after graduation.
- Intentionally work to close opportunity and subsequent achievement gaps.
ACPS Executive Director of Student Support Teams Darrell Sampson explained, “What is most exciting about Alexandria City High School is that they took several years to develop and implement their comprehensive school counseling program, ensuring that their work is firmly enmeshed within the culture of the school.” He sees RAMP certification for ACHS as a culmination of their efforts for a program that supports all students, staff and families.
RAMP certification lasts for five years. The Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and
Technology is also a current RAMP-certified school within our school division. Francis C. Hammond Middle School, George Washington Middle School, and Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School have also received RAMP certification in the past. Several schools are planning to submit new applications in the fall of 2022.