One counselor, 427 students

Guidance+Counselor+Monica+Barriero+works+throughout+the+school+day+to+assist+students+with+any+questions+or+concerns.

Guidance Counselor Monica Barriero works throughout the school day to assist students with any questions or concerns.

Pop quiz: what do you get when you mix a teacher, a therapist, a problem solver and an event planner together?
A guidance counselor.
School counselors are advocates. They go to work every day with one goal in mind: to make a difference in the lives of students.
“We wear many different hats. And so you can plan all day long, but you never know what kind of a day you’re going to have,” Monica Barreiro, counselor, said.
Counselors are responsible for guiding and supporting students through challenging situations, such as adjusting to a new school or applying for college. Counselors are also principal in supporting students through social and emotional challenges, as well as academic needs.
“Counselors work with students in the academic realm, post secondary counseling, personal, social, emotional, those kinds of areas,” Barreiro said. “We’re kind of like just problem solvers; the go-to person for students to reach out to for some support.”

The multifaceted work of school counselors helps prepare students academically and emotionally for life beyond school. Many students believe that all a counselor does is plan schedules for the next school year, but the job of a counselor varies by day to help support students and their families.
“The absolute biggest misconception, without a doubt, would be that we’re just there for scheduling,” Wake Forest University’s counselor, Shelby Boisvert, said.
Many students don’t know where their counselor’s office is or even who their counselor is. Many recommend meeting with counselors to provide students with academic success and mental health support.
“As a parent to two high school students, guidance counselors have helped me support my kids in their academic success and their social-emotional well being,” Naree Paik, junior Olivia Paik’s mom said. “I’ve quickly learned that not only have my kids benefited from meeting with their counselor, but as a parent, I’ve been shown how to help motivate my kids and help them develop realistic goals throughout high school.”
By focusing on parents concern, school counselors offer options including better ways to communicate with students and sharing information to establish a helping relationship.
“I didn’t realize the benefits of meeting with my counselor until recently and I wish I didn’t take for granted their help when I was a freshman or sophomore,” Olivia Paik said.
With the rise in COVID and the push-back from the pandemic, many counselors feel as if their relationship with students has been lost in translation. They haven’t been able to build the bonds they typically would have with students mentally and academically.
“The past couple years have made it nearly impossible to get to know everybody. I feel like not being in person affected the school environment and the counselor’s ability to really get to know the other students,” Barreiro said.
Although most school districts have returned in-person, the school environment is not the same as before the pandemic. School counselors are still navigating the unknown in many ways.
“We all want to go back to normal but we shouldn’t go back to the way things were. We need to constantly have our minds on what’s needed and that’s our role as a counselor: to address what’s needed,” Barriero said.
Regardless of the path students choose, the counselor provides a critical role in helping students transition into their next life stage. From hosting career fairs to helping students fill out college applications, or simply listening to their struggles during the school year.
“We don’t necessarily always have the answers, and we might not always be the right person to go to for a particular question, but if a student needs any kind of support at all, whether it’s problems with friends or family, personal, social, or emotional problems, reach out. There’s so much support here at school, and not just from the counseling staff,” Barreiro said.