Counselor Responsibilities
The Counselor is the student's first point of support

NOTE:  for District 5190 RYE Forms and Complete Inbound and Outbound Program information, go to:

How the RYE Counselor Supports the RYE Student

The Counselor provides their support by making sure that all of the student’s needs are met from the time of their first contact until they return home at the end of the exchange. Initially, when the counselor makes contact with the student before they even leave home, they introduce the student to their host family, the area and the high school they will be attending. This support continues as need through the student’s stay in the US. The three goals that drive the counselor’s role include:

  • Making sure the student is safe and secure while here
  • Encouraging activities and actions that will insure a successful exchange
  • Protecting the RYE program in order to make sure that WCSD requirements are met and that the program is in compliance with all regulatory agencies

Host Families

The counselor will find the first host family and help them begin the application process. Until a first family is identified, the school cannot be assigned. Until the school is assigned, the school zone cannot identified for the following host families during the student’s school year. Until a school is assigned and the Guarantee Form signed, the student cannot receive their Visa. Therefore, the most important first step is identifying the first host family for the student.

Counselors work closely with each other on the TMRYE Committee helping to find host families not only for their student, but for all of the students in Washoe County. It is Teamwork that makes the difference for our students. Counselors should work closely within their Rotary clubs and their personal sphere of influence seeking potential host families. It is often surprising to find out that families are interested in hosting – they just need to be asked. In the worst case, a potential host family will say “no, we can’t;” in the best case, they will be excited to participate.  Just ask.

WCSD Required Forms

WCSD requires the following forms to be completed and submitted to Cecilia Mansfield at WCSD:

The Host Family Information Sheet will be completed and submitted to Cecilia Mansfield every time a new family is assigned and the student moves into the home. The Representative Info Sheet is submitted each year by the counselor of record for the RYE student. If the counselor of record changes during the year, a new Representative Info Sheet must be submitted to Cecilia Mansfield.

District 5190 RYE Guarantee Form and Principal’s Approval to Enroll Form

The most important form that needs to be completed is the District 5190 RYE Guarantee form because a completed Guarantee Form will result in a DS-2019 Form that enables the student to apply for their Visa to come into the United States. Since it sometimes takes up to six weeks for this Visa application process to be completed, it is essential that this Guarantee Form be completed as soon as possible. However, you will need the Principal’s Approval to Enroll Form before you can get the principal’s signature on the Guarantee form.

The Rotary Guarantee Form is a fillable PDF form and includes three sections:  Host Club approval signatures (President and Counselor) and the Principal of the high school where the student will be enrolled. Cecilia Mansfield will provide the Principal’s Approval to Enroll form that must be received prior to making an appointment with the principal. At the appointment, have the principal sign the Principal’s Approval to Enroll Form and the Guarantee Form at the same time. All signatures should be in BLUE INK.

Once you have all of the signatures,

Prior to Arrival

Once the Principal’s Approval to Enroll Form and the Guarantee Form have been signed and sent to the appropriate parties, the counselor will contact the student, introducing them to their new life in the Truckee Meadows or Incline Village and giving them links online to their school and to the area’s events and activities. If there are any missing documents, the counselor will work with the country contact and the WCSD Liaison to help get those documents as needed.

Please contact your student as soon as you know the school they will be attending. Share with them the schools website along with information about the Reno, Sparks and Tahoe region. Introduce yourself as well and encourage them to communicate with you for their questions. Have them also study the extracurricular activities offered by the school and have them determine what they would like to involved with at their school.

Tell them that we will pay for school registration expenses, fees, yearbook and extracurricular activities up to $250 so they don’t overcommit to activities that will exceed $250. If they know this, they can alert their parents to the fact that there may be expenses the parents have to cover for those activities.  Generally speaking, the yearbook is about $90, the school fees about $90 and the remaining will be for their extracurriculars. This estimate of costs may differ from school to school.

Upon Arrival

Counselors should meet the student upon arrival along with the host families. It is always a good idea to invite Rotary club members to meet the student as well – there is nothing as heartwarming to a student than to see a crowd of people meet them upon arrival in their new country.

The student is required to bring $350 in cash with them and the counselor will take that money from them at the airport. This emergency fund is to be kept by the counselor in order to have immediately available emergency funds should the need arise. This money will not be returned until the counselor puts the student back on the plane when they leave for home.  If the need arises and the $350 is used for an emergency, the fund must be replenished as quickly as possible. Sources for replenishing the fund are the student’s natural parents or the monthly stipend.

The counselor will complete an Emergency Contact form that includes emergency contact numbers and emails for public emergency agencies as well as the host family, the counselor and the sponsoring Rotary club contact information. Download the Emergency Contact Form and complete with the relevant information. Make three copies and distribute: 1) for the student; 2) for the host family; and 3) a copy signed by the student which will be scanned and sent to Jon Greene, Guy Lease and the TMRYE Committee Chair (currently Tim Lukas).  Each time the student changes host families, the Emergency Contact Form needs to be revised and re-distributed.

Be sure to send Jon Greene, Guy Lease and Tim Lukas an email noting the arrival of the student and the complete contact information of the host family. While this may seem redundant, it is one of the documents needed for audit purposes.

Monthly Reflections Report

Both students and counselors must complete their monthly Reflections report by the first of the month for the previous month. The student Reflections report is found under the Reflections menu at the website. The counselor Reflection report is found at the YEAH web portal. The counselor will log into their account, select their student and scroll down to the report form button. It is the counselor’s responsibility to monitor the student for compliance with filing the monthly Reflections report.

Monthly Stipend for Student

The counselor will receive a check from the TMRYE Committee in the amount of $130 to be cashed for the student’s monthly stipend.  The monthly stipend of $130 is given to the student to cover their incidental expenses. Encourage the student to manage their money wisely; they should never be in a position to borrow money from their host family or friends.  If the monthly stipend does not cover purchases the student would like to make, they need to get the money from their parents, not the host family. The monthly stipend will not be given to the student until they have completed their Monthly Reflections report.

Home Visits

Before a family can accept an exchange student, the counselor must do a home visit to insure that the home is well-represented by the photos uploaded during the Host Family Application process. Within 45 days from the time the student moves into the home of any of their host family, a second home visit will be conducted by someone other than the counselor who initially did the first home visit. This person could be another counselor or the club president, as long as the report is not submitted by the same person who did the first home visit. The home visit is reported in YEAH under the host families record.

Changing Families

Perhaps the most stressful time for our students is when they move from family #1 to family #2 and from #2 to #3.  They have their routine down, they know what is expected from them in their household, and then they start again. For many, they have embraced change and while they have come to love their current family, they are aware of the opportunity for new experiences.

The counselor should help facilitate the move by introducing the current and the new families, perhaps by having the families meet for dinner. Regardless of the method, make sure that the two families are aware of the change plans and prepare everyone for the required documentation and announcements:

  • Host Family Information Sheet (Host Family Info Sheet) – a new form must be submitted to Cecilia Mansfield at WCSD each time the student changes host families
  • Emergency Contact Form and complete with the relevant information (or modify the first one) to be delivered to the new host family, the student and one copy signed by the student, scanned and sent to Jon Greene, Guy Lease and Chesa Keane.
  • The new host family will need to contact the Registrar at the school to announce the change in host families for the students and obtain the Infinite Campus access for the student
  • Make sure that the new family as a copy of the student’s RYE application packet which will give them information about the student and their family
  • Within 24 hours of the student’s move to the new family, an email to Jon Greene, Guy Lease and Tm Lukas notifying them of the date of move with all of the new host families contact information included. Again, this may seem redundant, but it is one of the documents needed for audit purposes.

There are some things to consider in the process of transferring our students from host family to host family:

  • When your host family is selected, qualified and the student is placed, please do not promise that you have a specific date for the change unless 1) they have given you a drop-dead required date for that transfer based on their plans or 2) you have the next family in place and committed already. This means that we have to be careful to ask our host families how long they can keep the student.  That way, if you have not been able to find the next host family, you know that you will have to make temporary housing arrangements for your student and you have plenty of time to do that.
  • Stay in touch with both the student and the host family on the status of the next family. Frequently reassure the host family that you will honor their time frame and make sure the student knows that you are working on find the family if you don’t have one yet. I think the best way to calm the tension is to make sure that we are letting everyone know the status of the next family.  Even if you think you have already let the family and the student know that you are doing your job, they are living the uncertainty and will not necessarily remember your conversation about the next family status.
  • Be prepared by letting your Rotary club know you may need help with temporary housing if you are having difficult with the next family placement.
  • Help the transition between families by encouraging your host families to meet along with the student (perhaps for dinner) so the student gets to know the next family in advance and to set up a smooth transition.  This is also a way for the student to know that they can always call the previous host family and perhaps get together with them while with the next host family from time to time.
  • While is it our responsibility to find the host families, sometimes our best host families are found by the student themselves. We don’t want to press them on this task, but surprisingly, they do a good job with this.
  • RI has a three-family policy in place for our RYE students.  However, if finding three families is not possible, two families may have to suffice. The two family allowance is only under the circumstance that a third family cannot be found and is used only in an emergency. There are families that are willing to keep the student not only for six months, but for their entire stay. But that is against RI policy. Even if a family offers a longer stay, do not stop your efforts to find three families for your student. Remember, all the families that we find are potential families for the next RYE year so don’t cut yourself short. The reason for multiple families is for the benefit of the student’s expanded experience. Just because the counselor doesn’t need a third family because the second family is willing to keep the student, we encourage the counselor not to shortcut the student’s experience of living in another household just because it is easier.

Monitoring Student Progress

You will have contact with your student frequently either by phone, email, texting or in person. It’s important that you maintain this contact so you are aware of any family issues, social or friend problems and their standing at school. Do not wait until a minor problem becomes a huge, unfixable problem.

School grades are often an issue that you need to address quickly if their grades drop below a C in any class, not just an overall C average. There are classes from time to time that may prove to be difficult for the student, so it’s important to check in early enough in the school year so their school class schedule can be adjusted. If you wait until it is too late, the schedule may not be able to be changed to better suit the student’s capabilities.

Make sure you also have access to Infinite Campus – as their guardian, you will have this access – so you can watch their school progress in grades, assignments and citizenship. Encourage the student to do their best. Failing a class is usually a matter of either not showing up for class or not doing the required assignments. If your student attends regularly and does their assignments, there is little chance they will fail the class. If they are doing the best they can, the school may be more forgiving of lower than C grades. But it is not a very good feeling for the student to try and fail so help them with their registration and work with the host family and school to make sure they are enrolled in the appropriate classes for their learning capabilities.

Changing Counselors

If a change of counselor occurs, WCSD requires notification using their Representative Information Form (Representative Info Sheet), provided within 48 hours of the change. Complete the form, scan and email to Cecilia Mansfield, Guy Lease, Jon Greene and Tim Lukas.  The new counselor will also contact the school Registrar to inform them that the former counselor is no longer the co-guardian for the student, providing the Registrar with all of their contact information. Additionally, the new counselor should quickly introduce themself to the host family and student.

Travel Authorization

Travel authorizations should be requested two weeks prior to the trip whenever possible. For details, see the Travel Authorization page.

Student Departure

The counselor should make every attempt to be present at the departure of the student. The student’s $350 emergency money will be returned if it has not been used during their stay in the US at the airport – and not sooner. Within 24 hours of the departure of the student, the Counselor will notify by email Jon Greene, Guy Lease and Tim Lukas of their leaving the country.

Outbound RYE Students

A student going to another country will be sponsored by a Rotary Club and the counselor for that club should make regular contact with that student. Prior to their departure, the student sponsored by the club will have an opportunity to meet and get to know the club members. While they are away on their Outbound Exchange, the counselor and members of the club can enhance their experience by maintaining regular correspondence.

Prior to their departure, the club should provide 10 – 15 club banners for exchanging with clubs in their hosting country.  When the student returns, the Program Director should find a suitable time for the Outbound – now called a Rebound – student to give a presentation to the club and give the club the banners from the clubs they visited in their country.

Make sure that your club meets and gets to know their outbound student. Get their email address and regularly connect with our outbound student over the year they are away. Your student will appreciate the support from home.