Mrs. Kara Buncic wanted to work with kids since she was in middle school herself. However, after graduating from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s degree in K-6 Elementary Education, she ended up working as an oil and gas title analyst and then a real-estate titleist. She went back to school to get her master’s degree in K-12 School Counseling at the California University of Pennsylvania after realizing she wanted to pursue a career doing what she loved: working in a school with kids.
Since beginning at PA Distance three years ago, she has worked as a school counselor for elementary, middle, and high school students. Currently, she is the high school counselor for students with last names A-G.
“I love being a counselor,” she explained, “I love building one-on-one relationships with students and getting to know them on a personal level. I like helping students help themselves to solve their issues academically and socially.”
PA Distance follows the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) model. The three domains of school counseling that they focus on are career, academic and social-emotional development. The ASCA believes that these domains promote mindsets and behaviors that enhance the learning process and create a culture of college and career readiness for all students.
“We meet with each student and talk about what track they want to pursue after graduating high school - college, workforce, or a trade school - and we take it from there,” she said. “We work through what they need to do to achieve that and work through it together.”
“It’s kind of like a giant flow chart,” she said. “We sit down to decide the best course of action for them and what works for them.”
Mrs. Buncic receives a weekly grade report that has all of her student’s grades so she is able to intervene when she sees a student having trouble with their classes. If she sees an issue or a pattern of decline, she will reach out and help create a plan for improvement while working with the student, their parents, and their teachers.
“In my experience, Counselors wear many hats because we are the bridge that connects the students, teachers, principals, and parents,” she explained.
“Every month, each K-12 counselor will teach a lesson to meet the ASCA standards,” she said. “October was Bullying and Digital Safety, November was Goal Setting, December is A Mindful You, and January is New Year New You.”
This year, PA Distance is rolling out a way to plan and track Career Pathways where the students pick a post-graduation pathway that they are interested in pursuing. The counselors make sure their classes line up with that document and that each student is learning the things they need for their futures.
“PA Distance is unique in that we have a variety of students from different backgrounds all in one place. I like learning about each part of the state in which each of my students lives,” she explained. “It’s really interesting and I wouldn’t get that opportunity anywhere else.”