Kim Crumbley, the other half of the popular Counselor Accents podcast, shares how trial and error, plus lots of laughter with colleagues, is a remedy for survival.
This Week's Storyteller: Kim Crumbley
Kim Crumbley is a school counselor at Parkside School in Alabama where she serves K- 8 students. Kim loves collaborating with other counselors and travelling, and can’t wait to hit the road again. Kim and fellow counselor Laura Rankhorn co-host the counselor podcast Counselor Accents.
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Hi everyone – welcome back to Encouraging Words for School Counselors – the shortest podcast around, full of inspirational stories to help make your work as a school counselor a little bit brighter.
I have sometimes compared working as a counselor in a school to what I imagine it’s like in a war zone, especially on those chaotic days when it seems crises are exploding all around you and it feels everyone – from students to colleagues to parents – are coming at you. You know those days. The comparison is most apt in the way that we create bonds with our colleagues during these moments of stress and bedlam. Those bonds of support — tested by fire — are unique and special.
Kim Crumbley from Alabama has formed this type of supportive kinship with her school principal. They both started working at the same K-12 school in the same year.
When I met him, it was in the summer and I drove up here and he was on the lawn mower. The one and only time he mowed the school’s yard, he ran over some kind of internet connection and shut the whole town down. So I went out there, out through the field to meet him and he’s mowing the yard. And I said, “Hey, I’m Kim Crumley, I’m your new school counselor. And I don’t know what I’m doing.” And he said, “I’m Richard Orr, your principal. And I don’t know what I’m doing.” And we went on to prove that we did not know what we were doing, especially that first year.
When Kim started, she had over a thousand students on her caseload and didn’t always know how to handle the variety of situations that confronted her.
So the first year, right, one of the first things that happened, it was an older teacher. She’s retired now and we could hear her squawking. So I go out in the hallway and she’s in the bathroom, pulling out four little boys and they were playing with their little boys. I don’t know what to call it. They were in the Netherlands, if you will. And so, there’s four of them. And he said, you take two and I take two and we’re going to handle this situation. Well, I took my two. I get down my Elvis puppet. We began to talk about inappropriate and appropriate within one minute, I’m just getting the puppet going. And he comes in, he had paddled his students, came right in, saw what I was doing. He said, this is not what I meant by taking care of it. And he turned [garbled]. And we laugh about that every time I was like, that is literally my job. The other is your job.
Hmm… It’s difficult to transition from that, but… Over the years, Kim and her principal have encountered many more challenging situations which have only strengthened their bonds of friendship and support. Kim has also formed strong friendships with other counselors, such as Laura Rankhorn – a counselor at another school who is not only a friend and colleague but also Kim’s co-host for the Counselor Accents podcast. It is these shared experiences and bonds of friendship with other colleagues that Kim says make all the difference.
Just thinking about how we’ve laughed together. We’ve cried together. We’ve lost students, we’ve lost parents, we’ve lost teachers. So, you know, there’s been a lot of laughter and a lot of tears that we have shared. And, you know, and Laura knows this, you know, we’ve had suicide, we’ve had cancer, we’ve had murder. Uh, we’ve had just about all of it, but through it all, I think the sense of humor that, that our climate and culture lends itself to, we believe in laughter here, we let kids laugh. We laugh loudly. We teach that as a coping skill. And Laura knows I’m attracted to people who have the sense of humor because I love, uh, that was the first thing, you know, that with Laura, we became fast friends because I realized that she copes the same way I do. And a lot of times with laughter.
If you want to hear more laughter from Kim and Laura, check out their podcast called Counselor Accents. It’s informative AND a lot of fun…and available on all of the major podcast providers.
Here’s our challenge to you — if laughter and stories about the “Netherlands” help you cope — we invite YOU to take just 10 minutes to grab a colleague and record a short conversation between the two of you, perhaps asking each other something like, “What is one of your most memorable experiences as a school counselor?” It doesn’t have to be long and certainly doesn’t have to be perfect. Just use Zoom, or your phone to record the conversation or use our online Sound Booth at inspiresuccess.org/podcast. And if you use Zoom or your phone, you can email me the recording at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, you can also hear past stories from school counselors from around the country at that same website inspiresuccess.org/podcast.
That’s all from us. Thanks for listening. Have a great week.