Good day fellow counselor and welcome to Encouraging Words for School Counselors – your weekly source of humorous and touching stories from school counselors about school counseling. I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success.
Former middle school counselor Mary Pouch shared a really funny story with us earlier this fall about mice in the school counseling office. If you haven’t heard that, it’s worth going back to find. But she also told us another story that was so funny, we just couldn’t wait to share it with you.
The story starts a few years back when Mary was helping with various career exploration efforts in California.
I was a counselor for the San Mateo County office of education. I was an ambassador, really, to middle schools and high schools in the County that had CTE courses that were part of our County CTE program. And I was leading a pilot of five middle schools that were using the Kuder career planning system – the navigator system – I was leading a pilot of five middle schools.
And so I was going in and assisting counselors while students took assessments and helping students kind of understand the results and things. And I was hugely pregnant with my first son. I was at a middle school that had, you know, quite a few students in one computer lab. So there wasn’t a lot of room to navigate the school, well, to navigate the room in general, but I was still trying to do my best with my very awkward pregnant stomach. I’m walking around and talking to kids and you know, just answering questions and I hit this boy with my stomach. I was like, I am so sorry! And then I said, and the baby says sorry, too.
And he looked, he turned and looked at me and he said, there’s a baby in there? And I said, well, well yes, what did you think this is? And he said, McDonald’s! McDonald’s! Oh, my goodness!
I laughed so hard I could not breathe! That poor child. It was like, this is not how you run a pilot taking assessments. Well, because I was laughing so hard that the students stopped and they were looking at me like, what is what’s going on with this woman? But it was just the look on his face. And I thought, wow, has this boy never seen a pregnant woman before? Do I not look like other pregnant women? It is large. It is very huge. And I waddled, but I still thought, I do think this looks different than a stomach full of McDonald’s.
Who was it? Art Linkletter, I believe, who used to say kids say the darndest things, I guess it’s true, right? It’s an ironic story because Mary later returned to her home state of Indiana and found what she calls her dream job, being the statewide trainer for the same Kuder career exploration system that she helped pilot in California.
It all started with that bump, that fortuitous bump! Really just a pilot program itself, but just kind of symbolic in a way, because one of the things that we find when students take assessments is that they don’t have a lot of life experience. And so they are not exposed to careers. Just like that boy hadn’t had enough life experience to know that it was just a hugely pregnant woman and not, not obesity from McDonald’s! I just think it’s a symbolic way to kind of understand how just that exploration piece really helps children to come out of their world a little and see more like the young man. I mean, I wonder what his experiences were with careers and what was around him before that. So we all come at this from such different places. Life, you know? And that’s true of the work you do as school counselors, being able to put yourself in your student’s shoes and really be there with them.
It’s a humorous reminder that we honest-to-God create stronger bonds with our students, I think, when we can share a little bit about ourselves with them, to be honest and open. I mean, sometimes, I think it’s okay to say — even to students — you know, it’s been a rough day. I think it helps create empathy and expands their knowledge of the world around them as well.
Thanks for all of the work YOU do to help open student’s minds and hearts.
That’s it for us. Remember to send us a note if you have a story to share – we would LOVE to hear it – at firstname.lastname@example.org (that comes right to me) or connect with us online at inspiresuccess.org/podcast.
Oh, and tell your friends about the podcast too!
Okay, I’m done with my checklist. Have a great week!