RHS counselors struggle to balance time and students’ needs

Junior+Leonardo+Hernandez+confronts+Mrs.+Moriarity+with+a+problem+before+she+heads+off+to+her+office+in+staged+photo.+Credit%3A+Dominique+Harlan

Junior Leonardo Hernandez confronts Mrs. Moriarity with a problem before she heads off to her office in staged photo. Credit: Dominique Harlan

Dominique Harlan, Reporter

Photo: Junior Leonardo Hernandez confronts Mrs. Moriarity with a problem before she heads off to her office in staged photo. Credit: Dominique Harlan

Dropping her work bag full of clustered documents down on the floor as she enters her welcoming home, an exhausted Mrs. Moriarity makes her way to a couch that beckons her after a long day of doing what she loves most. Meanwhile at Mrs. Lee’s home, her family greets her with a sense of comfort and release, where the pressure of doing right is then relieved for a while. A counselor’s job is never easy, as it consists of more than just rearranging schedules to a student’s preference — it goes beyond solving a problem, whether it’s simple or will take more than just one appointment.

For many, visiting with a counselor never goes beyond a schedule change, and this might be for several different reasons. Running into the counselor’s office at the end of the first week of school is when hundreds of students — ranging from freshman to senior — acquaint with whoever their counselor is. It is stereotypical to be convinced that a counselor’s career does not reach beyond this.

Freshman Cole LaRochelle said, “I look to my counselor for other reasons besides changing my schedule. Mostly leadership issues,”LaRochelle added, “I know counselors are super busy. They don’t get enough credit.”

Counselors are trained to keep up with all of the information of about 400 students that are under their belt.

According to Kidshealth.org, “It takes a lot of training to be a school counselor. Most not only have college degrees but also master’s degrees, as well as special training and certification in counseling. One of the many good things about school counselors is that they are up-to-date on all the top things that affect students, including any trends that might affect your school.”

Lee has also seen different perspectives of how she manages students, as she used to teach high school math before she decided to switch pathways to become a counselor.

“I used to teach, and now I really enjoy the different things I do and see. Although I don’t see as many students a day as I did when I was a teacher, my caseload is much bigger overall. I think I have a different impact on students that to me is personally rewarding,” Lee stated.

Mr West works in his office without a students.
Mr. West works in his office without students. Credit: Dominique Harlan

Several efforts, advances, and sacrifices are made when counselors such as Mrs. Moriarity do their job, as well as other counselors in the office, ranging from Mr. West to Mrs. Lee. Their hard work easily goes unnoticed.  

“I think I get enough credit. I’m not in it for the recognition, I’m in it to help the students,” said Moriarity.

It is clear that counselors are under a lot of pressure to please and might just be slightly overwhelmed. Counselors attempt to satisfy their students’ needs, all the while holding on to their stability and sorting out problems that need immediate attention. Students around RHS have even claimed that counselors are unhelpful or overrated.

Freshman Jyoshni Prakash stated, “I think counselors are a little overrated because they only seem to help out the people who reach out to them, and sometimes it can be very difficult for students to do that.”

Though counselors are busy with their daily workload, this does not mean other students see them as overrated or unhelpful.

“Mr. West is a busy guy, but he makes time for me and the others that he works with and I appreciate it,” says junior Rose Esnault.

From a student perspective, students of RHS are not 100% sure of what counselors do.

I talk with students a lot about their attendance. For seniors and juniors, sometimes sophomores and freshmen, their futures,” said Lee. “I also talk with students about concurrent enrollment so that they can take advantage of the opportunities they have to earn college credit.” This also ties into a busy day for counselors, and often times does not mean their day will be set in stone upon arriving to do what they love most.

“I wish I could say there was a set routine but there really isn’t. Meeting with students is a daily occurrence. How many and what the issues are, that varies,” Moriarity said. “I try to find downtime to help with the stress, like spending time with my family. Also, a big part of it is prioritizing and being organized.”

Despite the idea of being busy, it does not mean counselors do not attempt to make time for the students they manage, no matter how big that number is, their job surrounds the students of RHS.

Students tend to overlook the fact that counselors are busy and often times believe that counselors do not make attempts to converse with them on a personal level; students are left with the thought that counselors appear to be unhelpful, and tend to use this as a reason to avoid building a relationship.

Lee said, “As counselors we don’t necessarily tell them what to do, we help them try to figure out what’s best for them, and sometimes people take that as, ‘well she didn’t do anything for me.’ But maybe I feel like I did because I made them think about something in a different way.”

Counselors encourage students to interact and become more active, not only with the counselors themselves, but around the school as well. The doors are wide open for the opportunity, and just because counselors are busy does not mean they do not have time to converse with students.

Visit http://kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/school/school_counselors.html to learn more about reaching out to counselors and what they can do for you.