Mason Counseling Program Faculty and School of Education Doctoral Candidate Co-author Book

December 12, 2023

Book cover

Sam Steen and Shekila Melchior, professor and associate professor, respectively, in the Counseling program at George Mason University’s School of Education, and Amber B. Sansbury-Scott, who is pursuing her PhD in Education with a specialization in Early Care, and Education Policy at Mason, have co-authored a new book titled Advancing Equity-Focused School Counseling for All Students: Confronting Disproportionality Across PreK-12 Schools. This textbook serves as a valuable resource and reference to guide school counselors’ progressive and evolutionary practices in the field by centering the needs of students and families across the racial and identity spectrum.

Using author narratives, this book highlights the racial disparities that currently exist in schools within the historical context of pivotal legal cases in America while emphasizing the importance of assessing and supporting students through a culturally appropriate lens that recognizes student strengths. The book provides current and historical frameworks which address the ways in which social rank, segregation, and racism influence development for all children and through which school counselors can develop a more socially just and liberation-orientated school counseling program.

An important theme addressed in the book is the value of community partnerships and the role of key stakeholders in supporting a college going culture—particularly for student populations with historically limited access to higher education. The book illustrates the need for school counselors to learn more about the misconceptions pertaining to racially and ethnically minoritized children and the related impacts on misdiagnosis and overrepresentation in special education. In addition, the book posits school counselors as change agents responsible for actively supporting all students in academic, social/emotional, and college career development. With this transformative role in mind, the authors of the book call upon school counselors to examine their own racial identities and the ways in which their intersecting identities impact the students, families, and communities they serve.

When asked about their motivations for writing this book, each of the authors shared their individual perspectives drawn from their own experiences and reflections as described here.

Sam Steen

Sam Steen

“Our book is written by three Black educators with professional backgrounds spanning School Counseling, Educational Leadership, and Early Childhood expertise and scholarship. This is not an edited book, therefore the voice provided by our collaborative writing efforts and author narratives blend in a beautiful and powerful manner consistently throughout the text.”

“We wrote this book with an intentional aim to take a deeper exploration of the intersectionality framework—to ensure that all readers could access the material and identify with the challenging subject matter that is presented. This was important because a majority of the professional school counselors in public schools are cis gender white women, however, we know that there is also a critical mass of folks who do not identify in this manner. We wanted all of the readers to be able to see themselves and their students in this work, while emphasizing our experiences as Black people navigating hostile school environments.”

“We also present a clear view on disproportionality and the impact this has on Black and Brown students, yet we reframe this deficit approach as an opportunity to demonstrate their brilliance and their myriad of strengths.”

Shekila Melchior

Shekila Melchior

“Often in the education literature, racial/ethnic minority children are written from a deficit approach. Thus, their stories remain on the margins and are not central to the work. In this text, we aim to center the voices of children who are often silenced and not acknowledged through powerful narratives that show the complexities of the children we serve.”

“There is a story in particular that is one of my favorites, written by a CEHD faculty member, Diane Reese. She speaks of her K-12 experience and the impact of school integration. Her story is powerful and shows how our childhood experiences are woven into the fabric of the landscape we find ourselves in today.”

Amber B. Sansbury-Scott

Amber B. Sansbury-Scott

“In particular, we do not shy away from naming inequitable systems that imbue school counseling preparation and practice, while calling attention to their disproportionate impacts. This school counseling text outlines the cultural and historical foundations of policy that shape the myriad roles of counselors—and what could be today. We also describe missed opportunities to strengthen children's mental health in partnership with families, human service providers, and schools beginning in the early grades and concluding with post-graduation transition.”

“As co-authors, our interdisciplinary expertise highlights creative solutions and collaborative approaches to tackle the field’s most pressing challenges working across home-school-community contexts, grade levels, and devastating social determinants of mental health that compound in too many schools.”

The book is available for purchase and may be ordered by clicking here.

For more information on degree offerings in Mason’s Counseling and Early Childhood Education programs, please visit the program websites.