In honor of National School Counseling Week, we asked some of our amazing school counselors about the challenges and rewards of their job. Here is what they shared:
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
The most rewarding part about being a school counselor is when we help our students turn the corner for the better. Many of the issues we address are behind closed doors, so the school as a whole doesn’t know what we truly do to help our students succeed. –Chris St. Vrain, Woodstock High School
As a middle school counselor, we work with students during some of the most awkward years; that being said, it is amazing to see the growth in students and to be able to provide them with a safe outlet is an incredible privilege. –Phillip Crane, Mill Creek Middle School
I love it when students come to my office with some kind of issue and leave with the knowledge that they have power within themselves to resolve that issue or cope with whatever life brings. Our students are unique, resilient, and strong. To be able to witness their growth and feel like I’ve provided them with some of the skills that will benefit them throughout life is truly rewarding. –Sarah Bigelow, Freedom Middle School
What I find most rewarding about my job is that every day is a new adventure! I love that I can walk into DRMS each day and not know what the day will bring. No matter how challenging it is, I will love every minute of it because in the end, I know that I am helping a student, a parent or a colleague be the best they can be! –Michelle L. Martin, Dean Rusk Middle School
What I find most rewarding about my job as a counselor at an alternative school is seeing students who struggle in different aspects of their life be able to graduate. These are students who wouldn’t typically make it at a regular school. Watching them overcome their circumstances makes my heart happy. –Alina Saavedra, ACE Academy
A few weeks ago, I was approach by a parent of a child that attended R. M Moore several years ago. The parent stopped me and thanked me for the help that I provided to the family and to the child when they attended our school. She explained that the family was going through a very difficult time and my assistance made all the difference. They are now back on track and the child is getting ready to graduate. Knowing that I help people in the moments that they most need it makes my job the most rewarding job I could hope to do. –Jon Costales, R. M. Moore Elementary School
What words of advice/insight would you like to share with parents about their child’s school counselor?
As School Counselors, we are a resource for our students. We help them learn to be kind. We help them become an advocate for themselves and others. We help them learn to cope with life’s curve balls and become valuable members of their communities. School counselors care. –Brenda Norton Hall, Joseph Knox Elementary School
Often I have parents say to me, “You probably don’t know my child and have never met with them before because they are not having any problems.” My response is always that I do want to know their child because counselors don’t just work with the “problem students”. We support and assist students with academic, career and social and emotional growth. We have a wealth of resources to share and strive to be available to all students and parents as well. –Donna W Ratliff, ET Booth Middle School
We are here to help in any way we can. We would like to partner with our parents to make those mountains easier to move! –Tina Word, Johnston Elementary School
What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?
Fitting in the overall responsibilities in a proactive way is such a challenge. You have to think on your feet using knowledge, training, instincts, insight, professionalism and compassion. You have to be in tune with whatever comes your way! To have a student and/or their family seek you out asking for support, advice and counsel is gratifying. What an incredible privilege to enter into the lives of students and families as a school counselor! –Crista Sycks, Woodstock Elementary School
My biggest challenge is having time to be available for everyone. With a caseload of over 500 students for each counselor in most schools, it is hard to address every need from the student, to the parent, to the teacher, to the administration, to the college, to workforce, to the community. We are the first responders of the school and may have to triage numerous problems very quickly and pray we are making the right diagnosis for the symptoms presented to us. The common problems school guidance counselors come across in High School are more complex because this is the transition into adulthood. They (students) are beginning to search for their independence, and peer pressure is very powerful in influencing their decisions. –Jeff Bennett, River Ridge High School
What does your “typical day” involve/look like?
One of my favorite things about being a school counselor (besides helping the children, of course) is that you never know what the day’s going to involve/look like. Student safety and well-being is our top priority, so as school counselors, we adjust our day accordingly. Every day I’m able teach classroom guidance lessons, see students individually and in groups, speak on the phone or e-mail parents and meet with teachers, handling whatever comes my way. –Lisa Morales, Bascomb Elementary School
None of my days are typical, it can be a hundred different things coming at you at once, or relatively quiet. I like that the days are never the same, that nothing is typical, but for me, some of the same things that occur are lunch with my students. I do not have a traditional office space, I am directly on the hall, so quite frequently I have students in here during lunch who just cannot take the crowd in the lunchroom, who need to work on apex, or need help with an assignment. While it is sometimes difficult to get everything done with them in here, I am glad that they know my office is a safe space for them. –Tracy Tuck, Cherokee High School
Why did school counseling appeal to you?
After four years as a middle school teacher, I found that I had a desire to work with students and their families in a more holistic and systemic way, addressing academic, social/emotional, and personal issues, as well as supporting teachers and administrators in nurturing a school climate of kindness and character development. –Jason Himstedt, Carmel Elementary School
Dr. Seuss said, “Kid, You’ll Move Mountains!” I wanted to be the one to tell the kids they have this power. –Tina Word, Johnston Elementary School