Franklin-Hampshire Guidance Association
President / Treasurer Helen O'Donnell - firstname.lastname@example.org Vice President/ Co-Treasurer Rachel Schwab - email@example.com
By Helen C. O’Donnell, FHGA/FHCA President
Hand-written meeting reminder post card and phone calls invited me as a new school counselor to join FHGA in 1969, when I moved from teaching into school counseling. Established as an affiliate of MASA in 1961, the afterschool networking and social meetings rotated between Franklin and Hampshire Counties. I soon realized that several FHGA members were part of the dedicated school counseling network that partnered with the Department of Education to establish MSCA as a statewide organization in 1961. Our MASCA trustee, John Hagberg (Belchertown HS) always shared current MSCA (original name) news. Occasionally speakers were invited to the afternoon gatherings, but usual conversations were about school counseling issues, challenges, successes and offers of assistance just a phone call away. How times have changed!
The FHGA archives have no founding paperwork, since early records on mimeo paper have faded and are unreadable. Earliest records are from the mid 1970’s when Norm Smith of Northampton was FHGA president.
It was not until the late 1980’s that PD was planned and offered locally for FHGA and WM school counselors. A PD sampling included: a School Counseling Legal and Ethical series in partnership with the Hampshire Educational Collaborative; a DESE school counselor representatives traveled to Northampton to talk about the MA Common Core of Learning, the emerging MA Curriculum Framework, and Time on Learning mandates for instruction alignment to MA learning standards; Grief Workshop training with Sandra Fox; Dr. Ron Fredrickson spoke on the importance of Career Education: and Kathy Alexlander, from the local DA’s Office, co-hosted meetings on violence prevention initiatives. (More details of FHGA events, pictures and past FHGA award winners will be posted on the FHGA affiliate page.)
In the 1990’s, our association mission statement was written. As a fluid document, it evolves over time.
The Franklin-Hampshire Guidance Association (FHGA), a bi-county professional organization of school counselors (preK-post graduate) and colleagues, is an affiliate of the Massachusetts School Counselors Association (MASCA) and a sister affiliate with Western MA Counselors Association (WMCA). FHGA’s mission is to provide and support WMass professional development for school counselors & mediation advisors; establish networks for colleagues striving to meet the diverse needs of their students and school communities; and actively promote safe schools by providing workshop opportunities relating to peaceful conflict management, peer mediation, and other anti-violence initiatives. FHGA members maintain connections via group emails and occasional professional development workshops and meetings. (2002)
A FHGA needs assessment resulted in FHGA founding and hosting a Mediation Advisor’s Network and the Peacemakers Summit: A Conference of Peer Mediators was established. The 2-day event quickly outgrew the Greenfield Community College facilities and Hampshire College became the annual site host for over 1000 Grade 4-12 student peer mediation and their advisors for advanced training in conflict resolution. The event continued for 16 years.
Before the pandemic, local PD continued. FHGA hosted 2 career related events on Recognized Industry Credentials (RIC) hosted by Universal Technical Institute at our site host, Greenfield Community College with UTI and Shannon Doran as presenters. Currently, vetted by Fitchburg State University, FHGA sponsors the MA Model course, Counselors in K-12 Classrooms offered for 45 PDP’s or 3 graduate credits.
With the quality networking and virtual PD offered by MASCA and ASCA and the impact of the pandemic on developing access to Zoom and GoogleMeet platforms, technology has become an important communication and PD tool. As we move ahead, the mission of FHGA/FHCA will need to evolve.