Take this Job and Love It – Guidance Counseling 

They are the school employees who fly under the radar. That’s how one guidance counselor from Old Town High School describes his role.But as Sharon Pelletier discovered in this Take this Job and Love it, they also have an impact on everyone at the school.”What you can expect is that it’s always new and always different.”Colleen Fitzgerald should know, she’s been a guidance counselor for 19 years. She had me jump right in, and speak to some Juniors about their futures.”So have you thought of any potential careers or anything?”These two guys seem to have things figured out. Dan Gastia is planning to pursue a career in Law Enforcement, while Cody St. Louis is thinking about computer engineering.Then it was time for them to provide me with a little guidance.”So what else would a guidance counselor ask you? Ask us about our grades, next year.”They informed me that grades are very good, and their senior year schedule is set. Not much for me to offer these students, but then a problem came up when I discovered Cody is a Yankees fan.”This area I know quite a few actually. This school’s pretty much Red Sox fans. No the Clark Family is all Yankees fans, Reed family is all Yankee fans. OK, I’ve got to mediate here.”Actually I don’t think even the most experienced counselor could resolve this dispute. But Cody and Dan agreed to disagree and were on their way.Next I met with two Seniors, just days away from graduation.”So what are your plans for next year? I hope to go to the University of Maine.”Daniella is also an exchange student from Germany who talked with me about the challenges in getting adjusted to life in Maine, but she also says there are many of similarities.”Like the way teenagers are whenever you are in the world. We are all the same.”Actually a lot of what Guidance Counselors do happens behind closed doors, and is kept confidential. Some of it is difficult.Colleen Fitzgerald says, “For me the most difficult part of the job is when we lose a student. If we have a student die, a student who is very sick, a student who is being hurt, those are the most difficult times.”Fellow Counselor Nate Gardner adds, “Sometimes they tell you things in here that are serious but not serious enough that you have to refer it out. But you know it’s having a big impact and you can’t tell everyone exactly who so and so may be struggling.”But counselors are there to listen and hopefully make a difference. Then there are the successes as witnessed in a meeting of the Civil Rights Team.These young role models tackle issues that every school faces, like bullying.”We help the victim and we just help them out and set the bully straight. “We just basically try to create a safe home for people in the school.”And oh yeah, counselors do get to have some fun too. The teens taught me a game they like to play.Then it was time for my performance review. Colleen says, for the first day on the job, I did pretty well.”Don’t you think you’d be a natural at it though. I think I’d love it.”