This week kicks off National School Counseling Week (#NSCW17)! The theme for this year is School Counseling: Helping Students Realize Their Potential. As a school counselor, I am in the unique and fortunate position to genuinely know my students and create opportunities to enhance their academic achievement, career development, and personal/emotional growth.
In a given week, I can work with a student, their teacher(s) and parent to help improve their grades and help them develop study skills, convince a kid that college is for them, help guide someone’s career decision and outline potential pathways, explain the financial aid process to a parent, or sit alongside a student in their most vulnerable moment, because they feel life is not worth continuing, is overwhelmed with a home situation, or has experienced a death in their family for the first time. Our students deal with so much and often do so while coming to school everyday.
Being a school counselor can at times be stressful. Actually I lie, it is stressful most of the time, but so rewarding. It is a tremendous responsibility to care for my students emotional well-being and know that I play a role in guiding them as they shape their future. I am very cognizant of the potential impact a school counselor can make and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. For that reason, I give my students 110%, welcoming them with a smile, letting them know they are important, and collaborating with them so they realize their potential, all while holding high expectations. I treat them with respect and I see every student as someone who can and will be successful in life. I do so not expecting anything in return (although it always makes my day when I hear from alumni), and knowing that I strive to make an impact.
Two weeks ago, I transitioned from being a school counselor at a site to working at the district office. I found out I would be leaving SUHI four weeks prior to my departure, and of course that was enough time to say goodbye to my students. I always knew that as school counselors we make an impact, but never did that realization come to fruition as when I was getting ready to leave. I was genuinely surprised to see students reaction upon telling them the news. I assumed they may be surprised, but would not be too phased by the news. Was I wrong! Although I know my students are resilient and will be fine (and I know they will soon bond with the incoming counselor), I was truly touched by how significant I was to their life, more than what I ever imagined. I learned that all we do for our students matters to them and they take notice. The bond and relationships we form is the essence to cultivating learning and growth so they realize their full potential.
Liliana Silva Diaz has been a school counselor for 12 years. She is currently a Counselor on Special Assignment (COSA) in the Professional Growth Office. Previously she was part of the school counseling team at Sweetwater High School (Go Red Devils!), which is also her alma mater.