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NOTE: EMU's MA in Counseling program no longer offers the school counseling track.
“School counselors are concerned with reducing the student achievement gap between specific groups of students and their peers,” said Thomas Dodson, associate professor of counselor education. “It is about implementing a school-wide comprehensive program leading to positive social change and advocacy within the schools on behalf of all students.”
The school counseling track of EMU’s master of arts
in counseling program has changed dramatically in the
last year. Last year was the first time new students in the
program could take the specialty area classes in the
school counselor track at EMU. Previously, those classes
were outsourced across town to James Madison
University, but with the addition of Dodson to the
faculty, the track is now completely in-house and
“We are building the school counseling track to be of the highest quality, based on the American School Counselor Association’s National Model for school counselor training” said Dodson. “We believe we are doing so all for the glory of God. We are also in the midst of obtaining national recognition by the major accreditation body for school counselor training programs.”
To help students learn leadership skills necessary for school counselors, Dodson creates “real world” practical class exercises. “One major project students complete is a program proposal that assesses a school’s particular need and then creates a program to meet that need,” said Dodson, “Then we create a mock school board meeting, in which the student will persuade the board to give them permission to carry out the program.” Students must use research, evaluate their approach and provide a convincing account of their program to fellow students in approximately the same amount of time they would have in a school board meeting, 20 minutes.
There are 11 students in the program this year, six second-year students and four first-year. The program is 51 credit hours, and students spend 700 hours in schools during that time. They also have opportunities to graduate studies Counseling program targets students’ needs “My vision has always been that school counselors would make a clear connection to their other work as a way to relate to conflict transformation and peacemaker training.” enhance their training by taking electives in EMU’s education department as well as with the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.
“One of the strengths of EMU’s program is its close proximity to the internationally-known Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, and to EMU’s education department which is second to none,” said Dodson. “My vision has always been that school counselors trained at EMU would be encouraged to make a clear connection to, for example, their classroom guidance and their other work as a way to relate to conflict transformation and peacemaker training to the benefit of kids at even a very young age.” Dodson in Colombia