Counselors Breakfast connects names and faces for districts

Annual event returns, bolstering collaboration in support of CTE students

 culinary students lined up in front of counselors The Center for Career Services welcomed 30 school counselors from component district high schools for the return of an annual breakfast that, among other things, puts friendly faces to familiar names for those attending.

The annual Counselors Breakfast also bolsters partnerships and collaboration with the Center’s district partners, enabling them to better support students who attend SWBOCES programs.

Members of the SWBOCES team provided a detailed overview of key aspects of the center’s programs. They answered questions and helped ensure that those who are new to their roles know where they can turn for information. 

“This is the start of our outreach season,” Director of Career Services Dahlia Jackson said. “This event usually takes place in June, but we have so many new people on our staff and in our districts we decided now was an ideal time to invite our counselors here.”

Doing so afforded the opportunity to show off the campus and provide guided tours of programs. It was also a chance to enjoy a buffet breakfast catered by students in instructor Chef John Damiani’s Culinary Arts program.

 principal speaks to room of counselorsSWBOCES Counselors Anna Macchia, Monica Mann, and Kevin McAllister led off the presentation, followed by Social Worker Eileen Yip, Senior Office Assistant MaryJo Moran, Principal Evangelo Michas and Assistant Principal Phil Donohue. Each shared information and drilled down on important details and updates. 

Ms. Macchia discussed the Secondary Day CTE offerings - 20 career-focused programs for high school junior and seniors - as well as the iCTE career programs for students in need of a smaller environment, and the GED program. 

She also shared finer points about several programs that will be helpful for counselors to understand in their work with students. Cosmetology and Clinical Nursing have requirements for mandated hours, for example. Culinary Arts is physically demanding. Animal Science has a strong science emphasis, not to mention several live animals with which students will work.

 counselors tour cosmetology class Ms. Mann discussed the Center’s college articulations - agreements that allow students to earn college credit while in high school. Mr. McAllister made clear policies and expectations around student attendance. Ms. Yip shared her role in making students aware of expectations around how they treat one another.

“It really is important that they have a mutual respect and understanding for one another,” she said. 

Ms. Moran walked counselors through the all-important registration portal that opens March 1. She encouraged them to register interested students quickly for popular programs before they fill up.

Principal Michas and Assistant Principal Donohue shared how-work-based learning is interwoven throughout the center’s offerings, from on-campus assignments like the morning’s breakfast buffet to internships with local businesses and organizations.

“We’re continually building partnerships throughout the community,” Mr. Michas said. 

Mr. Donohue added that internships - like those with Westchester Community College, Premier Collection auto group, Yonkers Honda and Shoprite, for example - are where alumni say they formed the experiences they long remember from their time at SWBOCES. They are also where they often find employment upon graduation.

Attendees expressed appreciation for the chance to meet the SWBOCES team member in person.

New Rochelle High School Director of Guidance Leah Lugovina-Freitas said her district sends some 250 students here, and that number is increasing. Putting faces to the names she knows among the staff here is so helpful, she said 

Counselor Heather Reilly of Eastchester agreed. 

“We’re big fans of BOCES at Eastchester High School,” Ms. Reilly said, noting that this event is worthwhile particularly in terms of keeping up with changes in programs and requirements. 

Santos Avila, a counselor at Port Chester High School, joined a tour of the campus, starting out in one of the cosmetology classrooms.

“This provides a great opportunity to learn more about the various programs they have here,” Mr. Avila said. “BOCES is very helpful in terms of sharing what they’re doing. For me, this is the best part of the day."