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National School Counselor Week: Gratitude

National School Counselor Week: Gratitude

Andrea Rusk
Mundelein High School

In a world full of turmoil, in a year with more challenges than we ever could have expected, we keep going. We’re still here. And amidst all of this I find that I am feeling more grateful than ever for those people in our profession who keep us motivated and lift us up through difficult times.

When I became the College Counselor at MHS, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. There was no plan, no direction, but there was a lot of hope. Thankfully, I was far from alone. How I lucked out to have a ridiculous lineup of mentors surrounding me is something I believe I will never understand, and all of this came to me through IACAC.

In my first month, I visited programs at other schools. I sat down and diligently took notes to learn from the greats: Allegra Giulietti-Schmitt, Aliza Gilbert, Amy Belstra, Becki Bellito, Carl Krause, Christopher Chiakulas, Dan Miller, Heather Ecklund, Kim Magee Wiley, and Sara English. They each took time out of their crazy schedules to teach me about what they did at their school, the whys and hows and tips and tricks I really needed to hear. I still have those notes, along with ALL the handouts that I received. I’m not a pack-rat by any means, but these notes have sentimental value that is hard to explain. Then, with gentle guidance, I signed up for the IACAC Mentorship program and was connected with my mentor-for-life Renee Koziol. She was there to answer my questions, big and small, and help push me to keep going when things got tough.

And, though National School Counselor Week is generally reflective of those of us on the secondary side of the desk, we all know that our counselor counterparts on the postsecondary side deserve recognition as well. I’ll never forget when, during that tumultuous first year, I was having a particularly rough week and Julie Nelson came to visit my school. She was MY counselor that day, providing advice that I still use regularly, and helping me to laugh through it all! That moment was one that was repeated with so many others who have helped me learn what it means to be a great school counselor. Thank you (you know who you are) for answering my calls and emails and, most importantly, for helping my students find their futures.

And so, though I could keep going on for many pages, I would like to simply say this: Thank you. Thank you all for what you do every day to support our students as they take the incredibly important first step to independence and “adulting.” And thank you for supporting us, your colleagues. You are all amazing.

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