For school counselors like Dr. Nicole Fields, the key to helping students succeed and thrive is staying connected; even in the midst of a pandemic.
This Week's Storyteller
Nicole Fields came to school counseling non traditionally, beginning her career as a classroom teacher prior to working ten years as a trainer for UPS and an outreach coordinator for Girl Scouts before finding her calling as a school counselor. She has served as a school counselor at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and is currently one of two counselors with the Freshman Academy at Iroquois High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Fields, along with her husband Tyrone, is also the cofounder of “Team Fields.” Running 15-years strong, it has grown to include children Noah (13), Nolan (10), and Taylor (5).
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Hi, everyone! Welcome to another week of Encouraging Words for School Counselors. I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success. We’re sponsored this month by a new online learning platform called RAMP Ready, designed especially for K-12 school counselors who want to adopt a comprehensive counseling program and/or apply for the Recognized ASCA Model Program (or RAMP) Award. You can learn more about RAMP Ready at inspiresuccess.org/rampready.
We’re delighted to have Dr. Nicole Fields with us this week. Dr. Fields has worked at every grade level K through 12 as a school counselor and is currently one of two school counselors working in the Freshman Academy at Iroquois High School in Louisville, Kentucky. Making connections with students is Nicole’s gift, her specialty, something she feels is absolutely critical – especially in this time of virtual classrooms and environments.
The school that I work at currently, we have a high poverty needs school, and we’ve had a lot of gun violence happen in the school that I’m in. And we currently have two of my students are paralyzed [due to] gun violence.
And though it is more challenging because of the pandemic, Dr. Fields says counselors are still able to make and maintain connections with students.
I mean, you may not be able to come to the building, but you can still see me and we can have a relationship and I can still help you be successful in your high school career. I think ultimately that’s the most important thing. We have kids that have cancer. I think about when I was in high school and kids would get really sick, how much school they missed. And now we have these platforms where it’s just the new normal. We just have to do things differently. And so we have kids that thrive virtually. They didn’t thrive in person and vice versa, but I think this is opened up that opportunity to really reach students where before we couldn’t.
One of the many ways Dr. Fields stays connected with her students is by encouraging them to call or text her any time. Of course, with some boundaries.
I have a Google voice number I’ve been having it for long before everybody started drinking the Google Kool-Aid. So if you have an issue, you can text me, but don’t text me at 10 o’clock because I’m asleep. My freshmen they’ll text on a Saturday: Hey, I’m having problems with this. I’m like, okay, well I’m on family time. If this is not a crisis, I’ll get back to you. But I see it, but I’m on family time. So they are aware of it. And they just, you know, setting those boundaries and they respect that, but they know that they have an advocate for them.
Reaching students, whether virtually or in person, has been part of Nicole’s mission, even when she started working as a school counselor with elementary school students.
One of my favorite students, he is now in the eighth grade, but when I met him, he was in the third grade and he, um, was constantly in the hallway. And I was like, why is he in the hallway?
I love to, like, walk the hallways. And I would go to every class every morning, say, “Good morning! And it’s a motivation Monday.” “Good mornings! It’s Terrific Tuesday!” “Good morning!” But Friday is my favorite day because in kindergarten land they did the electric slide and everybody had something different.
Well, he was always in the hallway when I did my good morning trips. And I was like, “Hey, where are you in the halway?”
“I don’t want to be here.”
I was puffed up. I said, “Well, you can be my buddy in the morning. You want to be my buddy?”
He was like, “I don’t want to be your buddy.” He said, “What do you do, anyway?”
I said, “I go tell everybody good morning. That’s what. They pay me to go say good morning to everybody.”
“They pay you to go say good morning?”
I said, “I say good morning to every last classroom.”
So he would come in, get his breakfast, drop his backpack off of my office. And we would go through all the classrooms and say good morning. He would say, good morning. And then he would come to my office. We’ll chat for a few minutes, start his day. And then I would take him to his class.
One morning, my husband came. He brought me coffee or something. And I said, “Oh, meet Mr. Fields.”
He said, “Man, they pay your wife to go to say, good morning to everybody.”
He said, “I’m doing the wrong job. I think I want to do her job.”
That student is now in high school, and though Dr. Fields doesn’t see him often, there’s a bond there that keeps them connected.
One of his counselors called me last year and he was not having a good day.
And she said, “Ms. Fields, um, your school son…”
I’m like, my school son? Like I have two sons. I’m like, “What?” I said, “Ooooh, my school son.”
She said, “He needs to talk to you.”
I said, “Are we really having a bad day? Did you go say good morning to everybody?”
He just instantly started laughing. He said, “Oh, Ms. Fields, I miss you. I just needed to hear your voice. And I’m just having a tough day today.”
And so we talked about 10 minutes and he was fine, but they know they can always call me if he’s having a moment.
Thanks to Nicole for her story and her continued hard work and hello to all of the school counselors in the Louisville area – thanks for your continued hard work.
Before we go, we hope you’ll consider sharing a story or two like Nicole did. You can simply email me at email@example.com and we’ll set up a brief Zoom call — it’s very easy to do. Or go to our online soundbooth and make a quick recording of your own – again, easy as pie (actually, easier than making pie). You can find the online soundbooth at inspiresuccess.org/podcast and click on “soundbooth.”
Have a great week everyone! We’ll see you next time.