Speaker Matt Fleck

Matt is a former school counselor and current director of the nonprofit Inspire Success. Matt hosts the podcast Encouraging Words for School Counselors.

Don’t Forget K-12 Student College & Career Readiness (#117)

K-12 school counselors help students succeed by working to close academic achievement gaps and grow student social-emotional health, but don’t forget the importance of helping students discover a passion for a future career. Arizona School Counselor of the Year Kristina Guy joins the podcast once again to explain how counselors can better connect students to potential careers.

Indiana’s Plan: Every School With a Comprehensive Counseling Program (#116)

What if your state decided it was important for EVERY school to have a comprehensive counseling program in place - even if it wasn’t the ASCA National Model - and made it easy for schools to implement the program? That’s the question Indiana posed, and answered, by developing a comprehensive counseling program called Carrying the Torch to Student Success AND developing a free online learning platform so that every school could implement the program. Listen in to hear how Indiana made all of this happen.

Zebras & Gorillas Are No Match for Arkansas’ SCOY (#115)

Arkansas School Counselor of the Year Christy English shares a hilarious story of the best kindergarten graduation ever (which includes a zebra and a gorilla) and why advocating for your role as a professional school counselor can make a world of difference.

Kick-Starting Your School Counselor Summer Plans (#114)

If you need a boost of positive energy as you wrap up a long school year, you’ll love another engaging conversation with New Jersey Elementary School Counselor - and last year’s New Jersey School Counselor of the Year - Indra Owens. Check it out for some great resources and lots of laughter to kick-start your summer.

Successful School Counseling = Continued Learning (#113)

The commonwealth of Virginia’s School Counselor of the Year Christina Tillery is not only going back to college to earn her PhD, she’s also learning how to be a successful school counselor through everyday lessons as a high school counselor. Hear why she says learning is sometimes a “pleasant slap in the face.”

Sensory Rooms, TBRI, and Working Like the Flash (#112)

The title of this week’s podcast summarizes the content of a robust conversation with Elementary School Counselor Josh Nelson about several practical resources that can help ANY student succeed. Listen in on this chat with one of the 2023 ASCA National School Counselor of the Year finalists.

Advocating with Data Works (#111)

Illinois School Counselor of the Year Nancy Fernandez is a living example of how using data can produce benefits for students AND school counseling programs.

A Small But Mighty Force for Tiny Humans (#110)

The term “small but mighty” could apply to K-2 school counselor Layla Green Touchet who at 5’0” stands tall as the 2022 Louisiana School Counselor of the Year. Layla is a go-getter currently working on her PhD in Counseling while connecting in unique ways with her students, especially those with ADHD and Autism, and even one or two who bite.

Mission-Driven in Mississippi (#109)

Magnolia State School Counselor of the Year Dr. Ebonee Magee-Dorsey grew up in the small town of Monticello, Mississippi and returned to the community nine years ago to expand and transform the school counseling program there. Listen in as she discusses with Inspire Success’ Aimee Portteus her passion, her favorite resources, and her recent frustration with the NFL.

What To Do When You Can’t Do It All (#108)

If you need some school counseling time saving tips, scheduling suggestions, and escapism resources to relax after a long day at school, you’ll want to listen in to this engaging podcast with Tennessee School Counselor of the Year Emily Fain Lynch.

Plan to Be Surprised (#107)

For most school counselors, few days go as smoothly as planned. But making the most of the unexpected, including finding a cat in a backpack and learning that a Diet Coke can set off a jail cell alarm, are just a few of the stories Middle School Counselor Danielle Schultz shares with us this week. It’s just another day in the life of a school counselor!

School Counselor of the Year Secrets (#106)

What does it take to be recognized as school counselor of the year? For School Counselor and College and Career Coordinator Lydia McNeiley, it’s a mixture of continual improvement, student advocacy, and de-processing at the end of the day by singing your favorite songs in the car on the way home, as loud as you can. Listen in as Lydia shares more on these and other ways she promotes student success.

Experience & School Counseling Success (#105)

Each of us brings a mix of ourselves to the work we do and love, which is why there isn’t one recipe for being a successful school counselor. In this week’s podcast, Illinois School Counselor Bernard Starks shares how baking, photography, breathing exercises, and even McGruff the Crime Dog have all contributed to his experiences as a professional school counselor.

Triton Gives Back (#104)

Enjoy a lively conversation with three school counselors from Indiana whose corporation-wide service learning program for students at ALL grade levels– called Triton Gives Back – has become quite successful. You’ll also learn what role Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey Jr. played in the program’s success!

The School Counselor Wishlist (#103)

For something different, we asked school counselors to tell us what resources they felt no school counselor should do without, and to have a little fun with it. The resulting answers make for an enjoyable podcast and a wonderful Christmas list for the hard-to-shop-for-school counselor (but good luck finding THESE items!).

Affinity Groups Help Connect & Support School Counselors (#102)

Affinity is defined as a “similarity of characteristics suggesting a relationship.” Using this definition, the American School Counselor Association has formed “affinity groups” for new school counselors, rural school counselors, and many more, including a school counselors of color affinity group. Aimee Portteus shares a conversation this week with high school counselor Lukas Mendoza to learn more about his involvement in ASCA’s School Counselors of Color Affinity Group.

Balancing the Passion for Both Work & Play (#101)

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Inspiring School Counselors
Balancing the Passion for Both Work & Play (#101)

Every day when you return home from school, wouldn’t it be great if you were engaged in an activity that you love, keeps you fit, AND continues to benefit students? Michigan School Counselor Kelsey Smith has managed that unique balance,…

Embracing Fun & Connectedness as a School Counselor (#100)

With only five years under her belt as school counselor in Texas, Ashley Wright has already been recognized as an outstanding school counselor. Listen in this week to discover the two resources Ashley says are key to her success, her practical tips on working with teachers and community partners, and why her students lovingly refer to her as Counselor DJ Ash-Bash!

Practical Practices in Trauma-Informed Care (#99)

When you have worked as a teacher, coach, and administrator for almost 20 years you learn what works and what doesn’t. This week, our guest Alisa Kaczorowski shares the practical tips she has learned about what works with trauma-informed care.

Lezlie DelVecchio-Marks (#98)

With much enthusiasm, guest school counselor Lezlie DelVecchio-Marks shares with us how the growth mindset has not only helped her students but herself, the challenges of achieving RAMP, and the many practical ways she fosters “connections” with her students.

Marianne Matt (#97)

Guest School Counselor Marianne Matt describes why her high school students love the Accuplacer (yes, really), a favorite time-saving trick, and her rediscovered habit of journaling.

Summer Break (#96)

Join us for a brief message as we take a summer break after a long school year and share a few upcoming changes to the podcast, including how YOU can be a part of the new Inspire School Counselors podcast coming this fall.

A Graduation Story You Can Dance To (#95)

More than a decade ago, in an effort to help a struggling student stay engaged with and eventually graduate from high school, counselor Aimee Portteus and her student Hannah developed a friendship and a fundraising effort that dramatically shows the power of what school counseling can do for students and communities.

Moving Ahead by Challenging Our Fears (#94)

Though she has been a school counselor for only 8 years, Missy Smith is already the President of the Oklahoma School Counselor Association and a former state School Counselor of the Year. But her rise to leadership, though swift, required Missy to overcome some tough personal challenges.

Showing Your True Self Opens Doors (#93)

Students are sometimes surprised to see us at the grocery store or in a public place not tied to a school event. Betsy Kanagawa has found that these moments, and other times when we help students see us as our true selves, can actually be a way of strengthening connections with students.

Supporting Kids as They Ride the Rollercoaster (#92)

To get a comprehensive picture of what a school counselor does, take a listen to Virginia School Counselor of the Year Kathleen Otal. She has been a counselor from first grade to high school graduation and has learned a few lessons along the way.

Purposeful Play Therapy Yields Results (#91)

Almost every school counselor would like to have more time with students. That’s because we know, as our guest Donna Brooks reminds us this week, that the purposeful use of time and evidenced-based practices with students can truly yield positive results.

A Counselor Advocacy Reminder from Alaska (#90)

Have you ever thought about transferring to another school or school district? Maybe one with fewer challenges?! If you’re thinking of Alaska, think again. Alaska’s School Counselor of the Year Elizabeth Congdon-McGee shares time with us this week with a reminder that school counseling is hard work no matter where you are.

Fearlessly & Intentionally Working Toward Anti-Racism (#89)

Promoting anti-racism and anti-bias in schools can be tricky. But in our continued conversation with Ricky Almeida and Rebecca Cohen from Portland, Oregon, the results of empowering student voices benefit not only students but the entire school culture.

Creativity, Caring, and the Ukulele Group (#88)

What’s better than an incredible, enthusiastic, and effective school counselor? The answer: two school counselors who share those attributes. Listen in on this first of a two-parter with middle school counselors Ricky Almeida and Rebecca Cohen from Portland, Oregon as they share stories AND resources that you’ll want to know about.

A Kee to Success (#87)

In this week’s series highlighting school counselors of the year, we talk with TaRael Kee who’s work as a school counselor and school counseling advocate reaches across the country.

College Capable with Lots of Options (#85)

Are school counselors too realistic or overly optimistic? This week we hear from Arizona School Counselor of the Year Kristina Guy who answers that question by believing ALL of her students are college capable but in need of guidance to ensure they consider multiple pathways to reach their end goals.

When ‘Nothing Happened’ Is a Sign of Success (#84)

For Jillian Fackenthal, recognition as Florida’s School Counselor of the Year means thinking differently, collaborating with others, and involving students in finding solutions – even when success is measured in nontraditional ways.

Doing A Lot for the Littles (#83)

Transitioning from being a teacher to a school counselor is not uncommon. But for School Counselor of the Year Belinda Tutor, it was a calling that has opened new doors of opportunity for her and her students.
Todd Schimmell and a young lady

An SRO Providing TLC is A-OK (#82)

Todd Schimmell is not your typical School Resource Officer (SRO). Not only can he handle tough situations he is also an author, an illustrator, and a great benefit to the school district’s school counseling program.

Trust Your Journey (#81)

Listen as Indra Owens, school counselor at Chelsea Heights School in Atlantic City and the 2020 New Jersey School Counselor of the Year, shares her personal passion to educate, engage, empower, and equip families with the tools they need to take advantage of social-emotional and mental health supports.

Changing the Focus of SEL Challenges (#80)

Political discourse around social-emotional learning has risen to a fever pitch in some communities around the country. One way to lower the temperature is to do what Stephanie Stewart Bridges does, keep the focus on students.

Big Changes from a Small Intervention (#78)

Helping students become aware of when things are working right, or the way they want them to work, is a principle concept of brief counseling. This week’s guest Carey Hughes shares the perfect example of putting this principle into practice with students.

Be Mindful of the Benefits of Mindfulness (#77)

If you’ve ever thought, ‘I wonder how well mindfulness techniques actually work in the classroom,’ listen in this week as Oklahoma School Counselor Specialist Sarah Kirk shares two stories of the ways in which mindfulness has benefited students AND teachers.

The Ropes Course Challenge (#75)

As we enter the new year, well-respected author and resource provider Dr. Russell Sabella shares a favorite story of a ropes course experience with at-risk students that produced several unexpected positive results.

Encouraging Words for the New Year (#74)

What quotes or phrases resonate the most with you? The start of a new year is a good time to reflect on these encouraging words, and the helpful practice of regularly reviewing these words in the days ahead.

Taking Care of Busy-ness Over the Holidays (#73)

Be sure to add a very important person to your gift-giving list this holiday season: YOU. This week we explore the business of busy-ness and the value of using the holiday break to “break” unhealthy habits.

The School Counselor Fan Club (#72)

There is an unrecognized group of students who truly admire their K-12 school counselors. Though you may not always realize they exist, this week’s guests reveal that many school counselors have their own secret fan clubs.

The Power of Persistence (#71)

When Mindy Weaver-Flask submitted her graduate school application for School Counseling, the college lost it and told her she had to reapply. Instead of taking that as a sign she shouldn’t be a counselor, Mindy saw it instead as indication to be persistent. In this week’s story, Mindy shares WHY she feels her persistence will pay off.

Believing in the “At-Promise” Students (#70)

What happens when a male, Latino police officer is encouraged to consider being a school counselor? It comes down to trust and believing, as you’ll learn in this week’s story from Anuar Velazquez.

Sharing Thanks: Listening Can Be Noteworthy (#68)

Though school counselors know some of the best counseling “techniques” are the basics – such as empathy, caring, and active listening – it can be a challenge to find time to practice these with students. But the payoff from using these skills can sometimes be noteworthy.