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New school counselors come to lend helping hands

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New school counselors come to lend helping hands

Heather Gallier works in her office on student documents as a new counselor. Gallier was hired this year for 10th - 12th grade.

Heather Gallier works in her office on student documents as a new counselor. Gallier was hired this year for 10th - 12th grade.

Photo by: Chase Westfall

Heather Gallier works in her office on student documents as a new counselor. Gallier was hired this year for 10th - 12th grade.

Photo by: Chase Westfall

Photo by: Chase Westfall

Heather Gallier works in her office on student documents as a new counselor. Gallier was hired this year for 10th - 12th grade.

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They change schedules. They offer emotional support. They are the counselors.

After applications and interviews this summer, Bowie hired all five of its top picks for new counselors, according to returning counselor Laura Loza. Now she and fellow returning counselors Nona May and Carli Valverde welcome Kim Gilbert, Kim Libby, Clare Smith, Heather Gallier, and lead counselor Nicole Hepburn.

“It was a big change having five new counselors; the majority of the department being new,” Loza said. “But everyone’s really awesome- we were able to hire all of the candidates that we chose and everybody that we wanted ended up coming here.  So they are all really, really great.”

While there has been mass speculation about what caused so many of the previous counselors to leave, Robinson wants to assure faculty and students that the counselors who left all had personal, non-negative reasons to do so.

“We had quite a bit of turnover in the counseling department, which was obviously observed, and it wasn’t for any particular reason,” Robinson said. “People kind of reflect on their place in the organization when new leadership comes in. Everybody made individual decisions that were good for them.”

Each counselor on the new team brings their own unique strengths to the table, regardless of if they are fresh from graduate school or have been counseling for many years.

“I was very interested, as the principal, to make sure that we were getting positive people who were kid-centered and willing to commit to support Bowie,” Robinson said. “When we brought everybody together we felt like we really had a diverse group of counselors who could bring a lot of talent and ability to our school community.”

The new counselors are having to learn all the policies and procedures as the year commences. Learning these while also dealing with the student body can sometimes be tough, according to Gallier, but the new recruits are facing the challenge head-on.

“What I’m seeing is a learning curve,” Gallier said. “So it’s kinda difficult when everyone’s new and you have a question ‘cause it’s like…no one knows. No one knows how they’ve done it before. So that’s been the biggest thing, just learning about all the programs, but communication and support have been great.”

Though students have reportedly witnessed some of the learning processes of the new staff, senior Anna Ippolito, whose counselor is Gallier, says it hasn’t interfered with her receiving the help she needs.

“I went to talk to her so I could get my schedule changed and she took care of it super efficiently,” Ippolito said. “She was super competent and helpful. She was more than happy to help.”

From the student responses so far, the counselors’ new approach has been paying off. At least for senior Taina Gomez, speaking with Hepburn and Gilbert was more enjoyable than with other counselors in the past.

“They were both very nice and actually helped me at that moment and didn’t make me wait for like three weeks,” Gomez said. “Also, both of them had good body language in general but straight up said they liked talking to me because since they were new, they wanted to get to meet the students. And they talked to me not just about my schedule.”

The counselors are prepared to make some changes to their routines in order to further support and attempt to broaden their role in students’ lives.

“Our motto for this year is ‘practice positivity,’” May said. “We’re all here dedicated to help the students. I think the students are gonna see a 180-degree turnaround this year and I’m so excited for this group. We’re calling ourselves the BCTE- Best Counseling Team Ever.”

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New school counselors come to lend helping hands