STATE SUPERINTENDENT'S BLOG
School Counselors Make a Difference
September 29, 2014
Brent Sauls has spent the past decade working with North Carolina public school students as a school counselor. As he transitioned from the role of counselor at Daniels Middle School to the role of Dean of Students at Broughton High School, Sauls has had the unique opportunity to follow many of his students from their middle school years throughout their high school experience.
He began his career helping students navigate through middle school and now helps many of the same students plan for college and careers at Broughton High, where Sauls estimates that 90% of students plan to pursue post-secondary education.
Sauls has helped students through a plethora of anxiety issues, family crises, and academic challenges. As he watches his students transform from nervous 6th graders into to confident 12th graders, he is rewarded with the knowledge that he has played a role in helping students mature into young, responsive and productive adults.
Working between 50 and 60 hours per week, Sauls has put his heart and most of his free time into his job. Yet, he still said he enjoys coming to work every day because he has the opportunity to see his students growing and reaching their goals.
Fortunately for students, there are dedicated school counselors like Sauls in schools across the state. These counselors are part of a foundation for the academic and personal success for students of all grade levels. Not only do they provide emotional and mental support, but they also guide students through their academic studies so that they are more likely to reach their goals.
There is no question that North Carolina public school students have more diverse needs than ever before. Students who are struggling with social, emotional, physical or academic challenges often need more support than a classroom teacher can provide. School counselors are highly trained to help meet these specific needs so youth who are facing challenges can still enter the classroom ready to learn. Counselors are critical to learning.
That is one reason why The American School Counselor Association suggests that schools should operate with one counselor for every 250 students. North Carolina’s counselor-to-student ratio is closer to one counselor for every 400 students. Financial challenges have made it difficult for schools to hire more counselors to keep up with student growth. All the while, counselors have taken on additional job responsibilities that historically have been considered outside of their role. We hope, for the sake of our students and schools, that this is a trend that does not continue in the future.
So thank you to all of the devoted, enthusiastic school counselors across North Carolina. You are a valuable part of our students’ support system and a key partner in preparing North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students for college and a career.
June St. Clair Atkinson