Have you ever wondered what a school counselor actually does? Well, that question was posed to the counselors in the Scottsboro City and Jackson County Schools during National School Counselor Week. These educators have more responsibilities in their schools other than just meeting with the students, but this seems to be their favorite part of the job.
“The most gratifying part of my job,” says Cindy Woodall, counselor at Section High School, “is being able to help students achieve their goals and see their success during their school years and beyond. When you work in small communities, it is easier to keep track of students when they graduate. When they are successful, it is a great feeling to know I was a small part of that.”
Jaime Perkins, Woodville High School counselor, says, “The most gratifying part of my job is being able to help students achieve their goals and watching them succeed. It always brightens my day when students come to my office and are excited over their accomplishments.”
North Sand Mountain High School counselor Shelly Grant loves seeing her students succeed. She especially likes seeing the ones who have struggled and worked hard to better themselves. She works with students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Leigh Petty, counselor at Scottsboro Junior High School, replies, “Being able to help students learn ways to solve their problems and feeling like you have made a difference in some small way in their lives is one of the most gratifying parts of my job.”
Petty recently received a note from a former student who recalled a time when she heard her best friends talking about her. This upset her, so she went to Petty’s office.
In expressing her gratitude to Petty, this student wrote, “The Lord has been faithful to show me how He uses His people to shed light on how kind He is toward us and how He really does seek to restore our souls. I just wanted to encourage you that this young adult many years ago was really impacted by your character. I know that job is stressful and weary at times, but your impact will ripple for an eternity.”
“The most gratifying part of my job is getting to see the good in kids,” says Farrah Dudley, counselor at Collins Intermediate School. We as educators get to see the good things our students do each day. I cannot imagine a job where I couldn’t see something good in every single student/person in the building.”
For Missy Tolleson, counselor at Hollywood School, the best part of being a counselor is serving students and their families and seeing the students become successful.
“The best part of my job is getting to see the look in my students’ eyes when they hit the goal they were striving for and the happiness they display with each new success story,” says David Adkins, counselor at Skyline High School.
The most gratifying part of being a counselor for Danielle Maples, counselor at North Sand Mountain High School, is seeing the appreciation that the students have for you after you have helped them.
As the counselors reflected on the hard part of their jobs most said it is seeing the hardships that students and the families go through. They talk with their students during times of loss from a pet to a family member or friend. They feel helpless when they cannot fix all of a student’s problems such as dealing with difficult situations at home.
“It’s hard to see a young person struggling, especially when circumstances are beyond their control, says Perkins.
Most of these counselors serve as their school’s 504 coordinator and building test coordinator. The high school counselors work with students on scholarships, dual enrollment through Northeast Alabama Community College, setting career goals, and even help them with college enrollment. The elementary counselors sometimes meet with individual classes to discuss such topics as bullying, drug awareness, and self-esteem.
Grant is also the Junior Beta Club sponsor and Junior-Senior Prom co-sponsor. Petty coordinates Camp Junior Cats which is the seventh grade orientation day. Maples takes care of all the graduation needs for the seniors, and this includes everything from cap and gown orders to class rings and awards day.
Adkins often helps organize community service events and does anything he can to help his school succeed. Dudley serves on multiple committees for her school including the Collins Leadership Team, EL Committee, Parent and Family Engagement and CIP. She also coordinates the Nourish One Child at her school.
“I hope people realize counseling is not just a job,” says Woodall. “I feel like I speak for myself and fellow counselors when I say we are invested in your kids. I take my job home, and I lay awake at night praying for my students when they are in need. They will always be a part of my heart.”
“School counselors are vital to our schools,” says Perkins. “They are a direct advocate for students and their well-being. It’s one of the most difficult jobs, but also one of the most rewarding.”
“I am a partner with teachers and other faculty at my school to make sure our students are geared with all the tools they need to be successful and productive citizens,” says Tolleson.
“All of our school counselors work together as a team and recently our system hired a social worker who is an asset to our team,” says Dudley. “School counselors are not therapists. We are not trained to be long term mental health providers. We need more support in our school, community, state, and nation to address a real mental health crisis.”
“Counselors work behind the scenes a lot of time to make schools great,” says Adkins. “I am blessed to be able to work in a great school with amazing students, teachers, and community.”
“It’s a tough job,” says Maples, “but when a former student comes back and tells you that they couldn’t have made it without you, it makes it all worth it.”