3 Educators Who Changed the Way I Approached My High School Counseling Job [Episode 129]


Here's What to Expect in This Episode:

If you’ve been in the education field long enough, you know that the people you work with, encounter along your journey, and meet on the different paths in your career all shape who you are and your approach to your role. Well, I’m no exception to that philosophy. As a high school counselor, I met many fellow counselors who had an impact on my role as a school counselor and the qualities I tried to embody on a daily basis. In this episode, I reflect on the three educators who inspired me and changed how I approached my high school counseling job. 

Although I’ve worked with many high school counselors, three have stood out after many years on the job and beyond. With each person that I name, I also share how and why they impacted my approach to school counseling. Each had different strengths and was successful in their own ways, whether through relationship building, always willing to learn something new, the qualities of a good leader, and so much more. These, along with many others, are reasons why they had an impact on me. 

Additionally, all three of these women were successful school counselors in different seasons of their lives, which I found encouraging. By sharing the educators who inspired me in my approach to high school counseling jobs, I hope you feel encouraged to take the time to reflect and think through the educators in your life who were mentors and impacted your role as a school counselor.

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • 3 educators who inspired me and impacted my approach to my high school counseling job
  • All the different ways I learned from them and the lessons and qualities they taught me 
  • How each person was in a different season of their life, but were all excellent and successful high school counselors
  • Encouragement to reflect and think through the educators in your life who have inspired you in your role

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Read the transcript for this episode:

Lauren Tingle 0:00
Okay, this is such a fun episode that I’ve spent some time thinking through and reflecting on. And in this episode, I want to share with you three educators, more specifically, three high school counselors who impacted my work as a high school counselor, and then why they did that.

Lauren Tingle 0:20
I hope that by listening to this episode, it can make some space for you to take some time and reflect on who has made an impact on you and your school counseling practices. Who has inspired you? Who do you want to continue learning from? Who can you look to to fill gaps that you have as an educator, and who can you lean on like who around you are going to be those people for you?

Lauren Tingle 0:44
It’s so special to work at a school or work with a team with other people who are different from you, who can teach you things more about your personality, your workplace, your habits, and so much more. Those things are all shaping and molding you to be a better school counselor. So thank you for obliging me and letting me tell you a little bit about the three people who are meaningful to me in my journey as a high school counselor, and why they are still such sweet friends and mentors to me. Let’s get into this episode.

Lauren Tingle 1:52
The first friend I want to tell you about is Nicole. She is now one of my very best friends in life. And we met through our role as high school counselors. Now I will say Nicole has a way of making everyone feel like this. But I really do feel like this that we are best friends. And I’m confident in that title of friendship that we’ve built since we have aligned our paths way back when as coworkers. But when you know her, you will also feel like her best friend.

Lauren Tingle 2:22
And if I wasn’t certain that we would be best friends for life our misadventures of a spontaneous backpacking trip to Greece, like when we were just coworkers would affirm that we are going to be friends for the rest of our lives. So it was before we were married, we made memories together that would leave us no other choice than to be bound together with stories to tell our grandkids one day because, yes, the stories of booking a hostel for the wrong year of our trip in Greece, among other stories were told at her rehearsal dinner with sounds of laughter in response.

Lauren Tingle 2:55
So Nicole and I both went to the same grad school, but we graduated in different years. So we were in different cohorts. And we did not know each other when we were in grad school. And there were a few years separating us there. When she came into her counseling role in my department at the school that I worked at, I think I had been working there maybe one or two years without her there.

Lauren Tingle 3:15
And honestly, I was really excited to have someone around my age and someone who looked at school counseling with eyes that I did, like newly fresh out of a counseling program, and ready to look at a program with the intention of having a ramp model or more, maybe just a more recent mindset around what school counseling could look like or what it could be.

Lauren Tingle 3:38
And if I’m being completely honest, I had really just been hoping for and praying for someone to join the team who had a mindset like this, because where I was was people who had just been in school counseling for a long time. And so I was ready for someone who was excited and fresh in that place to join me as well.

Lauren Tingle 3:57
So when Nicole joined, she stepped into the team, and we were counseling by grade level at that point. So I was the 10th grade counselor and she was stepping in to fill the role of a senior counselor who quite honestly had burnt herself out and was moving for her husband’s job, but she probably would have left eventually anyway, because she was tired of being the senior counselor.

Lauren Tingle 4:19
And from seeing that counselor before her run herself into the ground, I was already beginning to see that the role of strictly being the senior counselor like having 400 plus seniors was really important but it also was not going to be sustainable to have somebody be in that job year in year out just doing those senior tasks because they take a lot of mental energy and honestly put a lot of stress on the person in that role.

Lauren Tingle 4:45
So Nicole stepped into this role with energy and enthusiasm as most of us probably would right out of grad school, but coming to know her now, that was not just a like first year counselor rose colored glasses kind of enthusiasm that other jaded counselors might be quick to label, she has an enthusiasm, where she came into a role ready to hit the ground running. And like I know this now, but I saw that then, and I could see it lived out in the way that she pursued her students and really put her head down in her job and did her job really well.

Lauren Tingle 5:22
So I will tell you that I think Nicole taught me that relationships matter. And yes, like, we know this as school counselors, but I got to see it lived out every day having a co worker who really believe this. Her servant hearted attitude was always coming from a place where she was thinking what is best for this student.

Lauren Tingle 5:43
So whether that was connecting them to a job shadowing opportunity, because they didn’t have people in their circles who could connect them there. Or she was reading their college essay and giving them honest feedback on how to correct it and make it better. Or whether that was organizing computer lab spaces for something she called Fun with Miss Broca, which basically was senior staying after their early dismissal, which was during the regular school day, in her book, to help get college applications situated, get their questions answered and be able to have a separate time to work on those outside of just their school day.

Lauren Tingle 6:18
So yes, of course, there was already college application day and other events catered towards helping those like large crowds of students. But she found that students needed that one on one help or they needed like a less intimidating setting and a smaller group where they could ask questions. But it was important that the flexibility was still kind of within the school day and worked with their work schedules. And she just made it happen. It was something that she saw a need. And she put it on her schedule, she worked it into her day. And it made a big difference for the students.

Lauren Tingle 6:49
So when I tell you all that these students knew that she cared about them. They did. She was their person in the school building. She was the senior counselor for this class, and they knew that she believed in them and that she would do anything for them.

Lauren Tingle 7:03
Nicole also proved that relationships mattered in the school building with other adults, because she pretty naturally built up this relational capital with the senior teachers. They trusted that if she needed to see a student out of their class, like she came and said, Can I see so and so that it was important, like they didn’t roll their eyes, they didn’t say I’ll send them later. They knew that they were all on the same team fighting for a student to get that diploma and graduate from high school.

Lauren Tingle 7:28
I found that some teachers are slower to hand over this trust or more hesitant to go all in and help a student because they’ve been let down by that team effort in the past or the interventions that didn’t work. She always followed through and communicated what was going on, you know, within the bounds of confidentiality and where they were on handling a situation. So teachers respected what she was doing. The admin appreciated her and students were definitely impacted by her work as a high school counselor. So Nicole reminded me that relationships matter as a school counselor in school building.

Lauren Tingle 8:03
Next up is my counselor friend Angela. I mentioned her in my last episode when I was talking about things to quit worrying about as a brand new high school counselor because Angela taught me a lot of those things when I was a brand new high school counselor. She was my first department head so really my first fearless leader as a high school counselor.

Lauren Tingle 9:07
She was so kind and reassuring as I stepped into a role where I was pretty nervous and she welcomed me into an already established team. There was a lot of experience already at the table and I was the newest kid on the block. I was the freshest meat here by years and years.

Lauren Tingle 9:25
Angela retired before my time in the school was done so I got to work with her and I got to work without her. I saw what a gap it was when she left and took her skills and experience with her to sail off into the retirement sunset. Something that Angela taught me by the time we spent working together was you’re never too experienced to learn something new.

Lauren Tingle 9:46
Like a lot of educators, Angela had been working in education in some capacity since she graduated college. She was a special ed teacher. She took on coaching different sports that she had never played. I mean, I still laugh about her telling me she bought a volleyball for dummies book, literally, you remember those yellow books and taught herself how to play volleyball so that she could coach because it was what got her a job. She got her admin degree. And then she really found her sweet spot in school counseling. So she settled in there.

Lauren Tingle 10:14
Angela was never the person who just took advantage of other people’s skills. Yes, she knew how to delegate. But she wanted to make sure she was leading with integrity and humility, which is something I still always respect about her. It was never beneath her for her to see me do something new and then say, Okay, now show me how to do that. She’s not the kind of person who refuses to learn something new just because she’s always done it this one way.

Lauren Tingle 10:39
I remember her saying once that she listened to a podcast, I think it was a podcast, maybe it was a book that she read. But I don’t remember what the podcast was or what it was about, or what the title was, or anything like that. But I remember her saying it was about someone who was on a team. And maybe they were the leader of the team, but that they listen to their teammates. And they always responded, okay, instead of questioning if the idea of their teammate was even feasible.

Lauren Tingle 11:05
And this honestly helped give me confidence to dream big as a new counselor. She never shut me down and said, Oh, that can’t be done, or that won’t fly here. Don’t even think about doing that. She always just leaned in around that table and said, Okay. And she was likely the first person to say, what do you need so that we can try that? That pony was always ready to learn new tricks.

Lauren Tingle 11:27
When we took on the giant endeavor of turning our program into a comprehensive student serving school counseling program, Angela knew it was best practice, and she was on board. And as I cast a vision for what it would look like to be a school with a model program, her enthusiasm assured me that we could do it, and that she would go all in to help us get there.

Lauren Tingle 11:46
I have a vivid memory of staying late on the last evening, like it had gone into evening time, by the time we had done all this, of getting our ramp application together to submit. You have to upload all these files. And it just like took longer than we thought it was going to right there at the end. And we stayed after we were there till the end, we hit submit, and she and I took a selfie together after we submitted that application. It was quite the journey and I was so thankful to have her to do that alongside among the rest of the team, of course, but she was just a special teammate to be working with as we went along that journey together.

Lauren Tingle 12:23
I just always knew that if she said she was on my team, she really was and she really meant it all the way to the end of whatever the project was, whether that was ramp or another crazy graduation season or something that I was really intimidated by as a new counselor.

Lauren Tingle 12:38
Like I said, Angela is now retired, but she’s always staying busy picking up long term counseling sub jobs when other school counselors go out on maternity leave in our district. The way that she can step into a counselor’s position and continue to just seamlessly serve students like in that counselors place while they’re gone. is so admirable to me. It’s every counselor on maternity leaves dreamed to leave their students in such competent and experienced hands.

Lauren Tingle 13:05
I know continuing to work after retirement isn’t everyone’s end goal. And it does not need to be I’m not saying that it does. But to me, it’s just one more example of how Angela is a lifelong learner and that’s something that I have definitely taken away from our friendship and our working relationship together.

Lauren Tingle 13:21
Last up is my friend Lorraine. Now, if her name sounds familiar, it’s because it is you heard her back on Episode 51, where she talked about her journey from strictly school counseling, where she started to moving into her own private practice and creating a co working space for other counselors. And now she counsels adults outside of the school setting and she supervises LPC interns.

Lauren Tingle 13:45
If you’ve been following along getting different touch points from me, you’ve also been hearing me mention her private practice workshop she has coming up. So if you’re listening to this live the week that it’s coming out, she has a limited number of seats in her two day live workshop. The first of the two days of the live workshop is happening this Friday, June 7. So you can learn more about that and register by going to counselorclique.com/privatepractice.

Lauren Tingle 14:09
Okay, but back to Lorraine, the person who was putting on that workshop. Who is she and what did she teach me? Lorraine was a counseling teammate of mine who actually graduated from the same grad school program in the same cohort as me, but we did not know each other super well then. She was coming from a career change and she was really like a season ahead of me in terms of life. I would say like with marriage and kids and a shift in her career.

Lauren Tingle 14:31
I was coming into grad school out of undergrad directly and I was just behind her in terms of life experience, what I could bring to the table job experience all that like we were in completely different seasons at that point in our lives.

Lauren Tingle 14:46
Lorraine taught me how to be a good leader. I watched her do things as our department head and team leader that I filed away to remember like this is an example of a good leader. This is what a good leader does. She stepped into the department head position for Angela retired and Ma’am, did I admire her for this?

Lauren Tingle 15:04
It is a I don’t know if it’s like this at your school, but it’s definitely a pretty thankless job from outside the department. And it has a lot of heavy responsibilities. I respected that she kept a small caseload with the intention of knowing what we were going through his counselors like throughout the year and what that timeline looked like. She was still juggling a lot of different responsibilities from the rest of the team that she just had to bear as the leader of the group.

Lauren Tingle 15:28
But she also like loved working with students. So I know that’s why she kept a student caseload too. It was a bright spot in her days, when she was inundated with all of that other stuff, the meetings, the red tape, the politics, the decision making, the roundtables that came as a territory that comes with just like being a key decision maker in the school.

Lauren Tingle 15:49
So Lorraine demanded a seat at the table. Like in a good way, of course. She made sure that our department’s voices were always heard to the higher ups. So much of the programming in a school affects students. And so much of what we’re doing as high school counselors every day is being the eyes and the ears of the student body, like we have a pulse on what’s going on. Because we’re just talking to students all day.

Lauren Tingle 16:12
Lorraine was amazing at advocating for us and for students, as she sat on the admin team, she knew the importance of being at the table and speaking up to be heard.

Lauren Tingle 16:22
After being a recipient of her strong leadership skills, it was no surprise to me or to any of you listening that Lorraine graduated from West Point, and she was in the Army. She has natural gifts of working with people, but the skills that she would attribute to her leadership have come from her time in the Army, and those just transferred so well to leading a team of school counselors, which I guess I just had never worked in, like super close proximity was someone who had been in the Army. And I would have never known. Obviously, I think about that those leadership skills that you would get from there. But I would never think of how they would roll over into such a different environment.

Lauren Tingle 17:00
She has such a way of zooming out and seeing the big picture to connect the dots and plan things out in a meaningful way. And she would say that comes from being six weeks out and planning big picture in the Army. She brings an excitement to the table to quickly start a project. But she also has the tenacity and just the follow through to like see it all the way through to the end.

Lauren Tingle 17:22
And I’m not sure if I’ve ever met someone who can visualize the big picture, but also nail all of the small details to make it happen. Because that’s not me. I was so thankful for this gift of hers as we facilitated a career fair, a mindfulness day, and countless lots and lots of annual SMART goals. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if any of my big ideas in the sky would have actually made their way down to earth and it would have actually happened.

Lauren Tingle 17:46
We worked as a really great team together and I still call her up to run through big old dreams that I have. She’s a really good sounding board for all things school counseling, and personally, all of my big ideas.

Lauren Tingle 17:59
All three of these women are humble and committed leaders in their own ways. They function as successful school counselors in their own unique seasons. And I hope that that is an encouragement to you like no matter what season you’re in. When we work together, Nicole was single right out of grad school, not married no kids. Lorraine was in the thick of having middle schoolers high schoolers and launching her kids off to college when she was leading a team of counselors. And Angela was married with no kids transitioning her years of working in the school system into retirement.

Lauren Tingle 18:29
Each of the season gave me unique perspectives on how to live life while being a high school counselor. Personally, all of them nurtured my big ideas and constantly asked me what’s next. Instead of saying things like we’ve always done it this way, you know that whiny tone that you do not want to hear. Their flexibility and their growth mindsets have always been inspiring to me, and have given me opportunities to grow into my own leadership spaces too.

Lauren Tingle 18:54
I’m really grateful to call all these women, my friends, because each of them have impacted and changed the way that I approach high school counseling for the better. So I’m thankful for their friendship and thank you for giving me the space to think it through and chat about it here on the podcast. I hope it was helpful for you to think about the people who have impacted you. I’ll see you here next week.

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