Alabama school counselor Kim Crumbley is back, sharing with us a few touching and “revealing” stories about working with parents and families that you won’t want to miss.
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.
Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Encouraging Words for School Counselors. I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success. Our nation has endured so much over the last year and the last couple of weeks from the continued spread of the coronavirus, to the upheavals from racial injustice, and yet another week of political tensions and division. If you’re sick of it – and would like to just “not think about it for a minute or two” – well, you’ve come to the right place.
Because today, we’re back with Alabama school counselor Kim Crumbley and a few more of her stories – this time – about working with parents and families.
We had a situation and it was a parent and we knew that they needed some support. So we drove out to the place where they were living and the door was open and it was a high poverty area and, and the door was open to the home and she was rocking out on the porch. The mother was. And you might have to cut this out! Her shirt stopped where her bra should have been above. So, um, there was, there were no steps up on the porch. So I climb up onto the porch. I see that my principal is stepping out of the whole situation. And so I’m trying to talk to her about her needs and she just sits there and rocks, and it has really no response for me. And I’m awkward. So finally, I come down off the porch, climbed down off the porch. And a few days later, she comes in, she plops herself down right in front of my desk and she’s a big, large lady. It was a plop. And she pointed her finger at me. And she said, I am going to whoop your [BEEP], and I said, you are? I think I was so shocked. And, and, and now maybe I might call the SRO officer. I don’t know, but I just sat there and I said, why are you going to whoop my…? And she said, because I know that you called — and we call it department of human resources here. And I said, I did not call on you, but I would have, if I had gotten a better look at your house, probably because she said she had been turned in for hoarding. And I’m like, I couldn’t get past where the shirt stopped. I didn’t see the house.
What could have been a very tense confrontation between Kim and a parent actually turned out to have a silver lining.
In talking with her and the way I reacted, which I think I just kind of saw the humor in the whole thing. I was stuck. I thought if she wants to whoop me, I’m dead. There’s nowhere I could go to get out of this. But in talking to her, I realized she really had no idea how to get that whole situation cleaned out. She had no idea. So, you know, we talked about where we could get some boxes and how we can start getting things sorted and how to sort it. To this day, that woman thinks that I hung the moon and she speaks to me in the community if she sees me. And I just saw how different that story could have went if I had reacted how I may have reacted another day. But anyway, it’s just these funny things that you think about in the counseling world, as you go back in your mind, and I just have a million of these little stories that make me laugh and you know, it’s like medicine. So we always try to find the humor in everything.
Admittedly, some days it’s easier to find the humor than others. Some days you hunt and hunt and it just doesn’t appear. And sometimes as Kim says, working with families is much more serious than funny.
In the middle of the night, I received a call from a student and her baby sister was dying in the hospital. And so I went to the hospital and I’m used to my family, but when I got there, it was me and it was the student, my student, and the mother. And that was it. And so me and the doctor sat outside and he was my doctor also, so I knew him. We sat out in the hallway and cried. And from then on, I realized not everybody has the support because I have such great support here at school with colleagues, I have such great support with family and friends. So my principal and I, we go, we go, when we need to go, we just get in our Batmobile and we take off wherever we need to go.
Not all counselors have the ability to visit students’ homes or meet them at the hospital when they’re sick but we can remember to ask, to check in with students about how things are going at home, remembering that we may not have a clue of how challenging their home life is. I remember meeting the parents of one my 11th grade students who was struggling with her grades. Her parents were so dismissive and condescending and generally awful to both her and to me, that I later told her that I was impressed at her commitment to coming to school every day despite her situation. She told me later that that one bit of recognition of her accomplishment made all the difference.
Hey, before wrap up and return you to the real world, do you have a story or two about working with a parent of one of your students? I’ll bet you do. We’d love to hear it. Just take a moment and go to our online soundbooth and record your short story at inspiresuccess.org/podcast or just send me an email at email@example.com and we’ll set up a quick Zoom recording with you that takes all of 10 minutes. Well, unless we get to talking.
Remember that you can subscribe to Encouraging Words for School Counselors on all of your favorite podcast apps and the next time you’re driving around town in your Batmobile like Kim and principal does, be sure to tell your friends about the podcast.
Hang in there. And continue making the world just a little bit brighter with the work you do. See you next week.