Why I Became a School Counselor, Part 2 (#14)

Inspiring School Counselors
Inspiring School Counselors
Why I Became a School Counselor, Part 2 (#14)

We continue this month’s theme on “Why I Became a School Counselor” with stories from three counselors early in their careers.

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We would love to hear your story about school counseling! Set up an interview by emailing Matt (matt@inspiresuccess.org) or see these instructions for recording and sending your story to us.


Matt Fleck:
Hello! Welcome to another episode of Encouraging Word for School Counselors. I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success. This month we’ve been featuring stories around the theme “Why did I become a school counselor,” and today three individuals share their passion stories with us – Kris, who is in his second year of being a school counselor, and Zach and Madison who are both interning now and almost finished with their school counseling graduate degree programs.

Kris Heidrich and his family

Kris Heidrich was a  teacher for three years, left and became an area director for a teen outreach ministry called Young Life, then came back to teaching and after talking with several school counselors he was ….

Kris Heiderich:
Kind of feeling this calling to continue education, but gain some expertise and some knowledge in the field that I thought I was best suited for serving students. And so, I think it’s a similar story, which I think is a good thing, which is, you know, teachers and educators who kind of have this longing to connect with students on, kind of, the social emotional side. And ended up pursuing that through school counseling.  

I’m always intrigued to learn why individuals decide to become a school counselor. For so many, it’s a calling like Kris described or, perhaps, a deep desire to help others. And for some, like Zach Frank, who graduated in Criminal Justice and was studying to join the police force, it was the result of searching through several jobs before finding the one that he felt was most fulfilling.

Zach Frank

Zach Frank:
As I was trying to get it and become a police officer, I had many different jobs. I was a driver — class B CDL — and it just wasn’t really rewarding to me. You know, it’s like, yeah, I’m giving them the product, but it’s just like, there was something missing.  

Madison Smith decided to become a school counselor because she wanted to help more students connect with a caring adult.  

Madison Smith:
I think when students come to the counseling office for specific issues, and then they no longer have to come to the counseling office, they’re using the tools and the strategies that you taught them. I think that’s just awesome to see. One thing I’ve noticed too, is the students can make as much of a difference in our lives as we can make in theirs. I feel like I learned something new from students all the time. I think it’s just really rewarding overall.  

But less you think everything is pie in the sky for new counselors, Madison says her practical experience has actually taught her it’s not all hugs and sunshine.  

Madison Smith

I think there’s just a lot that goes into being a counselor. Sometimes people still have an idea of a school counselor and what they do, and it’s not exactly correct, I guess. I think their role is changing a lot, as I’m learning in my internship. I’m seeing so many things that my supervisor is doing, and it’s just, it’s great that she has all these roles and responsibilities, but even as a student, it’s so much more than I ever expected.  

Speaking from my own experience, maybe nobody else, but, it can be easy to get a bit cynical about school counseling. Perhaps, you started out with the same enthusiasm as Zach and Madison and Kris, but you’ve been beaten down by ridiculously high student case loads, or meaningless non-counseling tasks, or trying to juggle 10,000 things at once — so many things that it’s hard not to hear these stories without being a little cynical. And maybe it’s not cynicism, but perhaps being realistic. School counseling is tough and we don’t want to paint a rosy picture of it when it isn’t always rosy. But, I also believe it’s important to continually challenge our own cynicism and frustration, and remember back — for some of us way back — why we became school counselors in the first place.  

As I was growing up, I’ve had dreams of doing many different things. My biggest dream was whatever I wanted to do is to help people. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be a role model. And I think school counseling is the perfect fit because you’re going to help these kids succeed later in life and set them up to succeed in life. And, I think at the end of the day, that’s just, that’s just, what’s really a motivator for us to watch these kids grow as humans, you know, and try to get their full potential out. That way when they are ready for the real world, after school, secondary, whatever it is, they’re ready for it.  

I’m so glad for Kris, Madison, Zach, and all of those studying to be a school counselor. We need your enthusiasm, your exuberance, we need your reminder of why this occupation is so important.  Gird up though — there will be cynics — and challenging times, but we’re behind you 100%.

Thank you for listening. We would love to record your humorous or touching story to encourage other counselors — so drop us a note on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram under “inspiresuccess” — just replace the first “I” with the number a “1” and you’ll find us – or email me directly at matt@inspiresuccess.org 

Until the next time, have a fantastic week!