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As I write this, I am awaiting the arrival of this year’s District Directions participants, the middle and high school counselors from the Vista Unified School District near San Diego. Of the many endeavors through which WACAC supports professionals who work with students in the transition to or between post-secondary institutions, this is the program I am most proud to be associated with.

The District Directions program gives public high school counselors the tools to change students’ lives. Counselors, many of whom have had no access to professional development in recent memory, are provided with data from their school, along with up-to-date information about the college admissions process and approaches to improve college-going rates. Participants learn how to use data to develop successful programs. Before they leave tomorrow, each of the school teams from the Vista Unified School District will set measurable goals for changing school culture and will identify action steps based on existing resources. Follow-up data from previous participants shows significant success that includes increased FAFSA completion and increased enrollment in four-year institutions. The human face of this data is the student who, because of these new efforts, goes to college and in doing so changes the trajectory of their family and, over time, their community.

The generosity of many volunteers makes this program possible. This year, we are delighted to be joined by Beth Gilfillan, College Counselor at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois and President-Elect of IACAC and Anne Kremer, Director of Admission at DePaul University and President of IACAC, who came to observe and learn, but have, of course, been “voluntold” and put to work. Many thanks go to this year’s faculty, all of whom are taking time from their very busy lives: Shirley Balbin-Stacher, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at UC San Diego, Christine Connolly, School Counseling student at San Diego State University, Lisa Filice, Supervisor of Counseling Services at Palomar College, Johathan Gomez, Outreach Coordinator at Miramar College, Grace Hartman, Associate Director of Admission at Santa Clara University, Dr. Trish Hatch, Director of the School Counseling Program and Associate Professor of Education at San Diego State University, Matthew Hebert, Director of Prospective Student Services at San Diego State University, Teri Heard, Director of College Counseling at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, Carol McAllister, Director of Admissions and Recruitment at CSU San Marcos, Michael McCawley, Director of Admission at UC Santa Cruz, Phillip Moreno, Director of Admission at University of Redlands, Dr. Vicki McNamara, retired Chair of School Counseling Department at Lewis & Clark College, Dr. Don Mitchell, Senior District Director at the College Board, Gregg Murray, Assistant Director of College Counseling at the Viewpoint School, Katy Murphy, Director of College Counseling at Bellarmine College Preparatory, and Lisa Saldias, Senior Admission Counselor for Multicultural Recruitment at the University of San Diego. Special thanks go to Dr. Esther Hugo, former WACAC President and current member of the WACAC Executive Board who purports to be retired and serves as project manager for District Directions.

By Peggy Hock