Guidance Counselors Support Students Through High School Journey

Guidance counselor Ms. Sakaina Simon meets with students.  Photo Credit: Nia Dove

Guidance counselor Ms. Sakaina Simon meets with students. Photo Credit: Nia Dove

By ALYSSA JONES-LUTCHMAN, NIA DOVE, and ISABELLA FRANCOIS

As a student, have you ever felt stressed or  overwhelmed by school or life at home? Are certain teachers, students, or even some of your friends getting on your nerves lately? Feel like you want to drop out and be done with school altogether? Well, you’re not the only one, but that’s why Midwood guidance is here to help.

The guidance and support staff, which includes the school’s social workers and psychologist, help students with all kinds of problems ranging from academic and social-emotional to mental health and behavioral.

Midwood guidance counselor Ms. Jodi Millman said students have to come to her about “conflicts with teachers and students, personal issues they’re dealing with that affect their performance at school, and sometimes laziness or lack of motivation.”

When it comes to academics, guidance counselors are often the first ones to check in on students who may be having trouble in their classes or who need a little push.

“My guidance counselor keeps me on task,” said Anthony Smith ’19. “If I have a bad grade, she will call me down to speak to me about it, whether it involves me doing extra credit or just trying harder.” 

The counselors have heard our problems and are ready to help.

Ms. Marguerite Allen, also a counselor, said, “I see all grade levels as often as they need.” She added, “I use empathy and provide a safe space.” 

Along with academics, guidance counselors also provide students with opportunities that they might not typically find on their own. 

“My guidance counselor and I share many laughs, but I can truly rely on her when I need internship opportunities and advice that can help me create a better future for myself,” said Sakinah Mehmood ‘20. 

The guidance rooms are on the first floor of the building, including Ms. Allen’s office in room 156B and Ms. Millman’s office in room 132.

According to Ms. Allen, students’ problems today “haven’t really changed much from past problems. However, social media has added a new element.”

Ms. Millman agreed: “Social media plays a part in negative behavior. A lot of outside factors affect people’s moods. Students see something and it upsets them for the whole day. It’s a distraction from school work and the present moment.”

Although students continue to need support, guidance has their methods of dealing with these situations. Guidance offers individual and group counseling, Ms. Allen said.

“I do a lot of of individual counseling,” said Ms. Millman. “There’s a lot of tears from expressing emotions. I make them feel like someone is actually listening and it’s a safe place to come to.”

Freshmen and seniors do not necessarily have the same issues.

“There are different stressors for each grade level,” said Ms. Allen. 

Ms. Millman said, “Freshmen deal with adjusting to high school, being in a large school, and getting comfortable in a new setting. That’s something that juniors don’t have to deal with.”

Some students resist having a relationship with their guidance counselor. Being there for students who don’t necessarily want a guidance counselor’s help can be challenging. And there are of course limits to what a guidance counselor can do.

Ms. Kendra Lane said, “The hardest part of my job is probably seeing what kids go through and being limited as to how I can help them.”

Ms. Allen said, “However, our roles as counselors is to support students no matter what.”

Students will continue to face challenges going through all four years of high school.

“School is extremely stressful as is, and it would be nice if guidance counselors could hold meetings with students more often just to check in on their emotional well-being,” said Chloe Adeleke ’20. 

Ms. Millman said, “It’s not easy to deal with outside influences in the media and on TV. However, students need to try to be who they are as individuals. They should speak to somebody whom they feel comfortable with, who  could help them figure out the next steps.”

“Open up to one person,” she said.


FeaturesCasey Levinson