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Counselors in the "real" world



Counselors in the Real World

Sarah Emily Curtis, Elizabeth Duncan, Susan McKenzie, and Julie New

Salem College


Counselors in the "Real" World

In todays educational environment, counselors play an important role in student development. Understanding how to manage their counseling program from assessment to implementation can be the difference between success and failure. As we interviewed current school counselors in the school systems in our areas, we found that they all have a lot on their plates, and that they work hard to make sure their students have every opportunity to thrive.

From classroom lessons to calendar management, these individuals teach the competencies they know their students will need to be successful. It is critical that a new counselor assess the current program and understand how to design and implement changes as necessary. Understanding state standards as well as knowing how to work within the American School Counselor Association [ASCA] guidelines will help us build comprehensive programs.


For this project, each group member was tasked with interviewing school counselors at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. We were also to interview an administrator. Each of us went to area schools and interviewed counselors who are working now to encourage and motivate their students.

The Interviews

Interviewed by Julie New. Julie New traveled to multiple schools in Randolph County NC, which tend to be in the rural setting. Julie first interviewed Becky Peele at Seagrove Elementary School. Ms. Peele is in her fourth year as a counselor, with the last two being at Seagrove. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill for both her undergraduate and graduate programs. Seagrove has approximately 428 students and just has one counselor.

Next, Julie traveled to Southwest Randolph Middle School, which is where the Seagrove Elementary students will go for Middle School. The Middle school has two counselors and she was able to interview both of them. Brittany Roberti handles the 7th and 8th grade students. She has been a counselor for two years and graduated from UNC-G for both her undergrad and graduate program. Pam Harden handles 6th and 8th grade students. She has been a counselor for 15 years, but has been at SWRMS for just a year. Between the two of them, they handle over 1100 students.

Julie then traveled to Wheatmore High School (still in Randolph County) to see high school counselor Shelia Dunphy-Atkins. There are two counselors at Wheatmore for their 700 students, and Ms. Dunphy-Atkins handles the juniors and seniors. She has been a counselor for 15 years, coming to Wheatmore High School when it opened in 2009. Mrs. Dunphy-Atkins got her undergraduate degree from Canisius College, where she also obtained her first Masters in School Administration. She got her second Masters in Counseling from St. Bonaventure University also in New York. She is also National Board Certified and her vast experience is a true asset to her students.

Finally, Julie interviewed Drew Maerz who is the Director of Testing and Accountability for the Asheboro City Schools in Randolph County. Dr. Maerz is responsible for the testing and reporting for Asheboro City Schools that serve over 4800 students. He has a BS in Secondary Education Chemistry, from the College of Education in at Penn State. His Masters in School Administration is from UNC-G and his Doctorate in Education is from UNC-Charlotte. Dr. Maerz has been a teacher, an elementary and high school principal. He then became the Director of Educational Development for Moore County prior to his current position. Dr. Maerz has seen how comprehensive counselingprograms can be beneficial to the students. A transcript of Julies interviews can be found in Appendix B.

Interviewed by Elizabeth Duncan.Elizabeth interviewed three counselors and one administrator in the Cabarrus County school system. The Cabarrus County school system has grown immensely in the past several years. Cabarrus County is suburban area. Elizabeth interviewed Julie Haas at Boger Elementary, Amy Hand at Northwest Middle, Christy Takach at Concord High, and Assistant Principal of Instruction at Beverly Hills Elementary.

Julie Haas started her professional career in admissions at an Art Institute. After deciding to change career paths she attended University of North Carolina at Charlotte and graduated in 2009 with a Masters in Education-School Counseling. Originally Ms. Haas wanted to work at the high school level. After doing an internship in an elementary school Ms. Haas changed her mind and decided to stay at the elementary level. Ms. Haas works with the students in 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade. Ms. Haas splits the Kindergarten classrooms with her co-counselor.

Ms. Hand worked for the Department of Social Services briefly before deciding to become a school counselor. Ms. Hand also attended University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This school year was Ms. Hands thirteenth year at a school counselor, all of which have been in middle school. Ms. Hand works with the 8th grade students at Northwest Middle.

Ms. Takach attended Marshall University, in West Virginia, for both her undergraduate and graduate work. Ms. Takach worked at the elementary level for ten years before moving the high school level. Ms. Takach has been at Concord High for three years.

Lastly, Ms. Scardina started teaching middle and high school Spanish and ESL back in 1995. In 1997 she began teaching just high school. Ms. Scardina earned a Master's Degree in Education in 2002 and then entered into the NC Principal Fellows program and earned a Master's in School Administration and Curriculum and Instruction in 2004. Since then she has been an Assistant Principal. Ms. Scardina did her undergraduate work at University of North Carolina at Greensboro and then all of her graduate work at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This year Ms. Scardina will begin working on her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction / Urban Education. This school year is her 20th year in education. A transcript of Lizs interviews can be found in Appendix C.

Interviewed by Susan McKenzie. Susan interviewed three school counselors and one administrator, who was formerly a school counselor, in Henderson County. Henderson Countys makeup is both suburban and rural, depending upon which part of the county you are in. The counselors interviewed were Susan Garren at Fletcher Elementary School, Carolyn Blakely at Hendersonville Middle School, and Annabelle Hurd at Hendersonville High School. The administrator interviewed was Shannon Auten, Assistant Principal at West Henderson High School.

Susan Garren, Fletcher Elementary, has a bachelors degree in elementary education. Ms. Garren taught middle school math for two years. She found that the kids had so many issues, and they would stay in her room and talk during lunch and breaks, so she decided to go into counseling. She went to school at night while she was teaching. She worked as a counselor at a high school for 4 years, but she didnt like the politics and paperwork of high school. She was at a middle school for 7 years and has been at Fletcher Elementary for 15 years.

Carolyn Blakely, Hendersonville Middle School, has an undergraduate degree in psychology. When she couldnt find a job, she went to a career counselor and found that school counseling would be a good fit for her. She has a masters in counseling education from the University of South Florida. She has been a school counselor for 16 years. She was a counselor at Lees-McRae College for four years, and since then has worked in Buncombe County, Wilkes County, and Henderson County. This is her first year at Hendersonville Middle School.

Annabelle Hurd, Hendersonville High School, has an undergraduate degree in English and a masters degree in Special Reading. She was an English teacher for 17 years, but she felt a need for change. So, she went back to school and got her specialist degree in school counseling. Ms. Hurd has been a school counselor for the last 17 years and has been at Hendersonville High School since 2002. A transcript of Susans interviews can be found in Appendix D.

Interviewed by Emily Curtis. Lisa Wagoner began her educational career by obtaining a BA in Psychology from UNC- C and then obtained a M.Ed. in School Counseling from there, as well. She has been counseling since 1990 at the elementary and high school levels (K-8 school, K-6 school, 9-12 school), and an early college), which gives her great insight to all the areas of social and academic development of her students. Her current school, West Yadkin Elementary, is a rural K-6 school with 600+ students, which is a Title 1 school that has a 40% Hispanic population. Six to eight elementary schools in Yadkin County have to share counselors and resources (Curtis, New, & Stambaugh, 2014, p. 3).

Bradley Shore has been a school counselor for over 15 years. He earned a bachelor of science in psychology from Appalachian State University. He began graduate school at ASU with plans to be a family and marriage counselor. During his studies, he decided to add school counseling to his M.A. in Community Counseling. Bradley has experience working in K-8 schools. During his time in K-8 schools, Bradley was responsible for working the sixth through eighth grade students. Once the schools in Yadkin County split, he began working in the K-6 schools. Bradley currently holds a split position of school counselor at Boonville Elementary School and Jonesville Elementary School. The two schools combined have a p