In the beginning

A look at how SHHS counselors chose their path and now help students choose theirs

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Photographer: Amy Blalock

Paige Childers and daughter, Addison, guide students by example, wearing masks and protecting others.

The first week of February is earmarked yearly by the American School Counselors Association to celebrate the unique contributions of school counselors within U.S. school systems. Spring Hill ISD counselors, Allison Williamson, Paige Childers, and Mandy Jameson help students achieve school success and plan for a career. This week, these ladies did some reflection on their own experiences with school counselors and decisions that helped them with their own educational choices and career paths.

We relied on the counselors/teachers to decide for us what we needed to do”

— Paige Childers

“The role of a counselor has changed since I was in school,” SHHS 9th and 11th-grade counselor Allison Williamson said. “Honestly, students did not interact with their school counselor when I was a kid like they do today.”

According to Williamson, students were much less involved in the decision-making process, trusting the “school” to make those decisions for them. Now, students are given the tools through technology such as interactive college tours, as well as online resources to really investigate what works for them as individuals. Counselors encourage this involvement by providing opportunities.

“The best part of my job is seeing students make a plan and then realizing they have a choice in future goals,” SHHS 9th and 12th-grade counselor Paige Childers said. “It is a blessing to hear from a former graduate the good news that they pursued and obtained their dreams for their future and are living their best life.”

Childers added that she, like Williamson, did not “meet” with her counselors back in 1992 when she was in the Senior Class of 1992 at Spring Hill High School.

“Things were very different in those days,” Childers said. “There was less transparency when I was in school. We relied on the counselors/teachers to decide for us what we needed to do.”

As a result, career paths and the distant future were not the immediate focus for the school counselor, leaving many students entering post secondary education with an “undecided” major or changing majors in midstream.

“I actually graduated with a degree in social counseling in order to work in the community with adults and children,” SHJH counselor Mandy Jameson said. “I realized early on I wanted to work with students in a school environment.”

However, Jameson had a different experience with school counselors, prompting her to consider the possibility of the career and the influence it has on young adults.

“I went through a rough patch my Junior year in High School,” Jameson said. “ I would not have made it without the support of my family and my school counselor.”

Being a school counselor requires both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as classroom experience. Counselors must also earn and maintain certification through standardized state test and obtain 200 clock hours of Professional Development that relates directly to the job duties every five years. Unlike a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) the training is in academic counseling.

“My duties fall under TEA and the job description for a Professional School Counselor,” Childers said. “ I do not have the additional required therapeutic hours or licensure that is necessary to be an LPC.”

As vital members of the school leadership team, school counselors create a school culture of success for all.

“School counseling programs help to increase student achievement and provide a much-needed resource for students, parents, teachers, and administrators,” ASCA Director Jill Cook said. “ School counselors are integral to student success.”