Guidance counselors are often thought of as the person at a school who creates and manages a student’s academic schedule, a person who may also help with college and career placement, assist with scholarships and may lead a club or assist a school principal, depending on the size of the school. The emphasis on the need for school counselors has grown, as there has been more evidence that when students have access to support for social and emotional well-being, they also perform better as students. While there has been a push to hire more counselors across the state, the overall ratio is 700 students to one counselor across the state. This means the case load for a school counselor is usually met with insurmountable challenges.
Understanding that student success is tied to having a strong support system, the Cobre Valley Institute of Technology (CVIT) Governing board hired its first ever guidance counselor, Aja DeZeeuw. Aja is a 1997 graduate of Superior High School and attended the University of Arizona for a business degree. After many years maintaining a successful career in retail sales management, she decided to go back to school to earn a master’s degree to become a certified guidance counselor. Prior to coming to CVIT, she worked for the Globe Unified School district as its guidance counselor.
CVIT leadership determined that adding a guidance counselor to its staff would benefit all of the school districts they serve: Globe, Miami, Hayden/Winkelman, Ray, San Carlos and Superior. Many of the schools in the Cobre Valley Institute of Technology district only have a student services director or academic advisor, who may not have the full qualifications to help with social and emotional behavioral needs along with the traditional student guidance. Career Technical Education (CTE) programs allow students to be dually enrolled in a local community college, which means that their college grades in CVIT count towards their permanent college transcript. In the role of the CVIT guidance counselor, DeZeeuw can help ensure that students participating in these program have the support they need to succeed.
DeZeeuw will be visiting each school on a regular basis to provide programing and support for social and emotional skills to all high school students, while also assisting students to sign up for advanced education programs through the CVIT district. Some of the social and emotional skills include how to work with different people and learning some of the professional soft skills students need to succeed both in school and in their careers. While she will definitely miss her students at Globe High School, she is excited to be able to serve more students across the Copper Corridor achieve their academic and career goals, but also to provide some of the emotional and behavioral support that many students need.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors can sign up for a variety of Career Technical Education programs through their local school and at the CVIT central campus in Globe. Local classes and opportunity vary by school district but there are courses in everything from hospitality, culinary, law enforcement and business. The CVIT central campus also offers programs in nursing, welding and cosmetology. Depending on the program, there may be some prerequisites needed. CTE programs allow students to graduate from high school with a career certificate, while also giving them the opportunity to learn about career opportunities. DeZeeuw also explained that CVIT is working on programs to assist with transportation from a students home district to the CVIT Central Campus.
“We want to be as supportive as possible to our students,” she explained.
Students who are homeschooled but who live in the CVIT district may also sign up for the programing. You can learn more about CVIT and the programs they offer at www.cvit81.org.
DeZeeuw is a resident of the Copper Corridor, living in Superior with her husband Josh and their menagerie of pets. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and traveling to see as many places in the world that she possibly can.