Career Story: Public School Guidance Counselor

Public School Guidance Counselor

Job Title: Guidance Counselor

Type of Company: I work for a public school in a suburb of Boston.

Education: BS, Sociology (minor in Criminal Justice), Ithaca College •• M.A., Rehabilitation Counseling, Assumption College

Previous Experience: I worked in a private school for students with emotional and academic difficulties and later worked in a public middle school as an academic counselor.

Job Tasks: There is hardly such a thing as a typical day for a guidance counselor and things come up that you simply can't prepare for.

In general, though, the things I do fall within broad recognizable categories. I meet individually with students who've been having academic difficulties or personal problems. And I preside over counseling sessions with small groups of children -- kids from broken homes, kids who've lost a loved one -- to discuss their shared complaints. From time to time, I also teach seminars on topics ranging from human development to organization to making friends.

On certain occasions, when an issue like bullying prompts a meeting of students and teachers, I am called on to address it, but I also get together with teachers, less publicly, to debate the best ways to educate students and assist them with their academic and emotional needs. I have to deal with parents as well, either through face-to-face meetings or via e-mail or phone. I attend faculty meetings. I attend curriculum meetings, and I work closely with the principal and assistant principal to ensure that student needs are being met.

Every now and then I get to go out to recess and play!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is getting to know the students. I like getting into the classrooms and seeing the work that they do. I like going to Phys. Ed. classes and running around with them. I also get a kick out of the music they play and seeing their art work around the school. Meeting with kids during lunch... Love that too. It gives me a chance to hear what they do outside of school.

Faculty meetings and meetings to discuss curriculum are undoubtedly important, but sometimes, after a long day, it's hard to stay focused in them. But the duty I like the least is reporting kids' parents to the Department of Social Services for abusing or mistreating them. I know I have to do it, but it's not something I want to do regularly.

Job Tips: In order to do this job, you need to be flexible. You can leave one afternoon thinking that you're going to get a bunch of things done the next day. And then the next day rolls around and something wholly unexpected comes up and all you hoped to do goes out the window.

You also need to be able to look beyond appearances and probe beneath the surface of things.

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