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The Intellectual Virtues Academy Blog

Not Your Average Counseling Experience

IVA High isn’t your average high school. And we’re definitely not your average school counseling experience. California schools average 1 counselor for every 500 students. That abysmal ratio makes it likely that most students will never meet with a counselor throughout their academic journey. 

This is where IVA High is different. We employ a team of 3 dedicated counselors for our small school of around 100 students. That ratio of approximately 1 counselor for every 33 students means that as a student at IVA, you’ll have access to the support, guidance and academic advising needed to navigate young adulthood and life after high school. 

Our amazing counseling team is comprised of Makenna Briceno, PPSC, LMFT, Darlin Ortiz, PPSC, and Marisol Marquez, School Counseling Intern. In addition, Summer Sanders, our Head of School, is also an experienced and Credentialed School Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

We mean it when we say they are some of the best around: In 2022, Makenna Briceno was named Los Angeles County Office of Education's “School Counselor of the Year” for her commitment to advocating for the academic, career, and social/emotional development of our students. Our entire team is recognized as kind, caring and knowledgeable and always willing to lend a helping hand. 

IVA High counselor Makenna Briceno snowboarding with students in Big Bear as part of the Outdoor Adventure Club.

College & Career Counseling at IVA High

The IVA High counseling program supports students to engage in academic and co-curricular pursuits that best prepare them for college and career, such as our paid internship program or dual enrollment with LBCC

Through both 1:1 and small group meetings, our counselors guide students through all aspects of the college admission process, including: 

  • researching college options 
  • building a resume
  • completing applications
  • essay writing
  • letters of recommendation
  • applying for financial aid & scholarships

IVA High also takes field trips to college campuses, invites guest speakers to share about their college and career experiences and hosts a career day every year. Our team goes above and beyond to ensure that our students are aware of and have access to opportunities that support a bright future! 

IVA High offers a UC Doorways approved College and Career Readiness course and offers two LBCC college courses: Orientation to College Success and Career Exploration for both college and high school credit. 

IVA High also partners with Long Beach Community College’s Early College Initiative coordinators. The counselors meet with LBCC administration, dual enrollment teachers, and professors for continuous program improvement. “It is important that we are meeting the needs of our students by providing them with courses they actually want to take. This requires us to be adaptable, to know our students well, and to communicate their requests to the LBCC team.” - Summer Sanders, IVA High Head of School. 

The coordinators and counselors provide wrap-around support for our students to ensure their success in the college courses. The students enrolled in a college course meet with LBCC College interns & Career Pathways Coordinator weekly to check on academic progress, answer questions, provide support and connect to college resources. Additionally, LBCC coordinators link IVA High students to college counselors for post-high school support. For students who need extra help identifying future goals, our counselors are available to offer tailored advice to help them feel confident about the direction they are going. They support by mapping out desired certificate programs, general education pathways for transferring to UC/CSU or private colleges, or support in selecting other courses of interest. IVA High students taking college courses have access to additional services such as: Disabled Student Program & Services (DSPS), writing lab, and mental health counseling.  They also provide monthly academic workshops for students and families, encourage LBCC library visits, and provide academic tutoring at the Multidisciplinary Center. 

Through this partnership, IVA High students have achieved a 95% academic success rate! That is currently the highest success rate in all of LBCC’s Early College partnership programs.

Marisol Marquez, Summer Sanders, and two young community members stand with students from IVA High’s GSA Club before marching on Ocean Blvd. in the Long Beach Pride Parade. 

Social & Emotional Counseling at IVA High

At IVA High, you can connect to real people and real resources to make the ins and outs of life manageable. All students at IVA High have access to resources for social and emotional support via our counseling program and community partners. 

Students at IVA High can easily schedule an appointment with one of our counseling staff to discuss social, emotional, or mental concerns in a safe, judgment-free environment. Our caring counselors listen and provide tools and resources to help you through a tough time. 

We recognize the importance of developing and maintaining social and emotional habits that promote mental well-being, so we’ve invested in our entire program to nurture a school culture that will help you not only find a place to connect and belong, but also build the skills you need to succeed. 

Safe and Positive School Culture

At IVA High, we value a positive and safe community where students can be themselves. Counselors are monumental in creating a strong, compassionate community. Our counselors are integrated into the daily activities of the students and the school. They also oversee all the extracurricular activities and clubs and mentor the Leadership Club, Different Shades of Brown Club, Gender Sexualities Alliances (GSA) Club, Student Ambassador Club, and more. 

Our counselors partner with students to learn more about their interests, passions, and outside-of-the-box thinking, empowering them to bring their ideas to life. IVA High students co-plan events like Prom, field trips, Community Meetings, Advisory lessons, Exhibition of Learning, and guest speakers with support of the counseling team. Students take ownership of these events while learning essential executive functioning skills such as planning, budgeting, recruiting, and marketing. Counselors model how to work as a team, problem-solve, and keep a growth mind-set.

These opportunities improve our students’ sense of belonging, pride, and provide opportunities for them to contribute to our school and city communities, ultimately increasing their self-esteem.

There’s no need to navigate high school, college and career choices on your own. Enroll at IVA and let us help you carve a path to your dreams. We’re enrolling for 2024-25 - don’t miss out!

About IVA High

IVA High is a fully accredited, tuition-free public high school in Long Beach, California with a mission to empower students to think well: creatively, critically, and with a capacity for self-growth. Our learner-centered approach puts students in charge of their education, while dual enrollment and paid internships transform learning into action. Students come for college prep, STEAM and limitless options for their future; they stay for smaller, safer learning in a vibrant, caring community. IVA High - Curious Minds, Empowered Community - Join Us.