The Business Education Partnership Foundation (BEP) held Counselors' Leadership Institute (CLI), a summer conference designed to equip K-12 school guidance counselors with information that will enable them to more effectively guide students as they make choices about education and their future careers.
The three-day conference provided school counselors in the Murfreesboro City and Rutherford County public school systems with information on postsecondary education options, workplace trends, skill gaps, and careers.
According to BEP Executive Director Amelia Bozeman, students and parents depend on counselors for advice on subjects ranging from middle school class schedules to life after high school. "We've had a tremendous response to this conference. School guidance counselors are tasked with a diverse array of responsibilities, and CLI is an opportunity for them to obtain updated and accurate information. Families rely heavily on school counselors, and we want to provide our counselors with the best information possible," she said.
CLI featured speakers from the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce's "Rutherford Works" program, who updated counselors with information on workforce trends and challenges through engagement with local business leaders. Topics included career and technical education pathways, "training the trainer" and job interviewing skills, in addition to expert industry presentations in healthcare, IT, logistics, and manufacturing accompanied by site visits and tours.
Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Workforce Development Beth Duffield said, "We are excited to provide an opportunity for guidance counselors in Rutherford County to learn more about the dynamics of five key business sectors in our community, including manufacturing, information technology, healthcare, and logistics, as well as hospitality and tourism. We believe the information gained by participating in the field trips and panel discussions available during CLI will enable the counselors to help our Rutherford County freshmen make more informed choices about their career pathway tracks in high school as well as help juniors and seniors make wise postsecondary choices after high school."
CLI also featured experts who addressed student overall development as well as emotional and mental health challenges. Counselors heard presentations on topics such as: the Autism Spectrum and Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, growing with ADHD, addressing bullying, suicide prevention, identifying children who are at risk for mental health issues, and signs of child abuse and neglect, as well as recognizing students who are physically harming themselves.
Bozeman said, "When students are facing adverse situations, often teachers and school counselors represent the first, and perhaps the only, opportunities children have to get help. We know that counselors want to help students in difficult circumstances, and we want to do everything we can to equip them to provide that help for students who are hurting."
United Way partner agencies provided information and local resources on helping families meet the critical needs of food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. President and CEO of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties Meagan Flippin said, "United Way is proud to partner with BEP to provide resources and education to our local school counselors on the services available to students. United Way recognizes the importance of addressing the whole child, and our community offers a wide array of programs to complement what is being accomplished in the classroom. Our students are the leadership of tomorrow, so it's critical that we position them for success in every opportunity."
The Business Education Partnership (BEP) Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization formed in 1988 with the help of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. The BEP states as its mission: "To foster interest in and to promote and support programs in public schools of the City of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County that will prepare students for the business world."
To learn more about the Business Education Partnership Foundation and its programs for teachers, guidance counselors, and students, visit rutherfordbep.org, or call (615) 278-2008.