Bumping Into Reality (#36)

For this spring break edition of the podcast we pull another favorite from our archives. This story, from former middle school counselor Mary Pouch, reminds us that it can be helpful for counselors to be there when students bump into reality. 
Inspiring School Counselors
Inspiring School Counselors
Bumping Into Reality (#36)

This Week's Storyteller

Mary Pouch has worked in California and Indiana as a school counselor, mostly at the middle school level. She is currently the state trainer for Kuder Incorporated’s Indiana Career Explorer program in Indiana.

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Matt Fleck:
Hey, everyone! Welcome back 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.

We’re pulling from our archives once more for this week’s spring break edition of Encouraging Words for School Counselors. This story is one my favorites, and from one my favorite people, because it still cracks me up. Mary Pouch is a former middle school counselor who, for the last several years, has done career exploration training with Kuder Incorporated both in Indiana and in California, where her story starts.

Mary Pouch:
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 so true. It reminds me of the sayings of Carl Rogers about being empathetic rather than sympathetic. Trying to see the world through our student’s eyes – and not just through our own. It’s not always easy…even when you’re pregnant. 

If these stories give you a chuckle or help you through your week – please consider sharing one or two of YOUR stories of being a school counselor with us. We’re ALWAYS looking for more stories. And it’s easy to do. Just go to our website – inspiresuccess.org/soundbooth – where you can find several ways to record your stories, archived podcasts, and other ways to listen.  

That’s it for us. Be sure to tell your friends about Encouraging Words for School Counselors podcast and have a great week!