Counseling changes evoke mixed reactions students

A wave of change and adaptation hits the school year, as current counseling department alterations push students to relationships and familiarity with different long-term counselors.

Counselor assignments have shifted from a previous system which dedicated two counselors to the freshman class to name-based assignments now encompassing all grades.  This change is the result of the addition of a new full-time counselor Dwayne Thomas which required shifting around students to ensure counselors have an equal caseload.

Following this addition, the counseling department redistributed students ensuring that two counselors are not responsible for the unusually large number of freshmen.

“I think that [these] changes happen[ed] in spite of [resulting] benefits or losses,” says counselor Jeannette Hayes. “It’s more [about being] equitable in terms of how much time a counselor can dedicate to students based on their caseload.”

Although these changes have been made to simplify counselor schedules and benefit students, this transition means adjusting and building a relationship with a new adult for students—a process that can be nerve-racking for some. “[Students] would have to recreate a relationship, which is not a bad thing, but it can be a little damper on the person’s social and emotional development,” adds junior Bronwyn Weikert.

In the midst of college application season, seniors whose counselors have changed recommendation letters expressed concern that their new counselor will not be able to provide an accurate description of their character and skills due to their unfamiliarity.

“There are a lot of people who want a recommendation and they want to have [an established] relationship with [their counselor],” says senior Kentiaus Charlery.

Despite the new relationships, resource counselor Kim Tolbert reassures that counselors are still able to provide seniors with sufficient recommendation letters that accurately reflect their capabilities. “The counselor recommendations are based on certain things, so what [colleges] are asking the counselor to do is dissect the student’s transcript and assess their college readiness,” adds Mr. Tolbert.

The administration has responded to the expressed concerns over the changes from students and their families by directing attention to the positive outcomes these changes will provide in the future. “Counselors are now able to work with the same students for all four years,” says principal Bob Sinclair. “Working with the same counselor for four years is a powerful way of supporting our students.”