National School Counseling Week is Feb. 5-9
It’s National School Counseling Week, so we’re highlighting a group of dedicated professionals who really deserve recognition all year long.
School counselors’ job description is long and varied, but it’s all in the name of supporting students. And it’s a whole lot more than helping students pick classes or apply to college.
“School counselors listen with their hearts and understand the unspoken words hidden within the silence of their students,” said Telisa Brown, director of the Arlington ISD guidance and counseling department. “They hold a space for growth, by nurturing their students as they blossom into their true selves.”
Their tireless work helps “ensure their students have the tools and space they need to be the best and healthiest versions of themselves,” she said. “School counselors make a difference.”
The difference they make can vary from student to student – depending on their needs – and by grade level. Elementary, junior high and high school counselors all have unique roles dictated by the age and experience of their students.
LaDonna Fields, the counselor at Fitzgerald Elementary, understands the special life stage that her elementary students are in.
“At this developmental stage, students are building the foundation to future academic and social success,” Fields said. “What makes it unique is getting to be a part of this journey and help navigate and guide them through social interactions, academic challenges and emotional development.”
No day is the same for Fields, and she likes it that way.
“Every day is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get!” she said. “Being able to guide students in their personal, social and academic growth is incredibly fulfilling. Building meaningful connections with all stakeholders is the highlight of the job.”
When students move on from elementary and hit the junior high level, many of their needs change, and with it the role of the counselor changes. There are new challenges the students must navigate, plus they have to start getting ready for high school.
“These challenges can often feel overwhelming and scary for students, and it is a joy to be able to walk alongside students during this time,” said Gunn Junior High counselor Jeff Colston. “School counseling at the junior high level is also unique because we only have these kids for a brief period of time, so it is important to make every second count.”
Colston makes sure every second does count as he does all he can to support students where they are now and help them get to where they want to go in the future.
“I get to daily play the role of encourager in the lives of students and staff,” he said. “School life and home life can be exhausting and stressful, but as a school counselor, I feel that I am uniquely positioned to be a breath of fresh air for the people on my campus, and I love getting to do that. I also love talking to students about their dreams for both the near and distant futures. I get to help students answer the question, ‘How do I get there?’”
After two quick years in junior high, students are off to high school with a whole new set of challenges and opportunities.
“High school is unique because we have so many different opportunities for kids to explore their college and career options,” said Leila Perez, a counselor at Arlington High School. “From tasting chili cookoffs to writing letters of recommendation to conducting mock job interviews, I love being part of their journey.”
It’s a journey that takes all kinds of twists and turns for each student. Everyone has different experiences, different backgrounds and different hopes and dreams.
“I love working one on one with kids to help them meet their goals, and I am grateful for the flexibility and resources to do that as a counselor,” Perez said.
Colston feels the same way.
“I genuinely think that I have the coolest job in the world as a school counselor, and I am just grateful every day that I have the opportunity to do this!” he said.
Fields loves the job, too, because of the impact she knows she is making.
“Knowing that I am doing my part to make sure our decisions are driven by what is best for kids brings me pure delight because our students absolutely deserve an advocate,” Fields said.
Our students are certainly better off because of advocates like Fields, Colston, Perez and every counselor in the district. We are grateful for you. Thank you!