Laurel Springs School Counselor, Shannon Snow: Self-Advocacy


According to The New York Times, “Self-advocacy is a key part of building a child’s sense of self-efficacy, or the understanding that they have the power to control and change their behavior, motivation and environment.”  
Teenagers who know how to effectively advocate for themselves tend to have stronger leadership skills, higher self esteem, and advanced problem solving capabilities. These core competencies are key to a successful transition from adolescence into adulthood. How does the online high school experience at Laurel Springs promote self-advocacy skills in students?

Shannon Snow, School CounselorShannon Snow, Counselor

First, the personalized approach to education at Laurel Springs means that college counselors like Shannon Snow can provide varying levels of advice for each student. “I can see which students are naturally good at advocating for themselves, and which ones aren’t.” 
Snow interacts with virtual school students in a variety of situations. “Some of my students are living mostly independently while pursuing a future career in dance, for example, and they keep up with all their schoolwork,” she said. These students may need minimal coaching from Snow about how to advocate for themselves in appropriate ways.
Snow also excels at working with students and their parents to find balance with an eye on growth. “I help families understand what each person’s role is, during a time when a student’s responsibilities are evolving,” Snow said. “For example, when I receive emails from parents about their students, I make sure to be clear in my reply about what the student is expected to do and what the parent is expected to do.” 

Academic Planning

The academic planning process is another way Laurel Springs students build self-advocacy skills. As a former placement counselor, Snow guides students through course selection while encouraging them to feel empowered to ask questions and make thoughtful choices. 
PlanningFor example, Snow said that when she suggests some courses during meetings with families of rising seniors, the students may ask why they should take a certain course. “When I answer that a lot of colleges expect to see this course on their transcript, students start to think about things from that point of view. It starts jogging their brains to think about how an admissions counselor or future employer will perceive their choices.”  
Laurel Springs students gain additional experience with self-advocacy when they determine how to manage their time, which they do with much more freedom than they would in a traditional school. “Students in an online school environment have a flexible schedule,” Snow emphasized, “and with that comes with a big responsibility to be advocates for their own education—to take it seriously.” 
Snow related a recent experience with a student who had gotten behind in his coursework and reached out for help. They worked together to design a plan that fit his needs. Snow said later, “He’s really receptive, and understands that there's no magic trick I can provide that will help him get caught up all at once.” Not only did the student become more comfortable with asking for help when he needed it, but he also took responsibility for how he could improve his academic performance. These types of situations help teenagers build a foundation of self-advocacy skills on an incremental basis, which they will put to good use as capable, confident adults.
Would your student benefit from an accredited online high school that provides them with the resources to advocate for themselves? The caring and knowledgeable staff in our admissions office are ready to answer your questions and walk you through the enrollment process. Contact your Laurel Springs representative or the admissions office to take the next step.