Education: Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Rollins College
Length of time in education: 31 years
Length of time counseling at HT: 12 years
What is your background in education?
I first taught at a public high school, then at All Saints’ Academy in Winter Haven, Florida, a school with a very similar history to Holy Trinity. I taught biology, algebra and geometry for 14 years. I was promoted to Director of Guidance in 1999 and served in that position for five years. My family relocated to Melbourne, FL in 2004. Then, in 2008 I joined the Holy Trinity College counseling staff.
How do you feel you can help students to “Start Here. Go Anywhere.”?
In my role as a college and academic advisor, I work closely with students and their families as they navigate through our high school curriculum, and as they explore college options and actually complete the application process. It is truly an exciting time, but it can also be a very stressful one. One area that I feel I have helped students and families with is handling such stress. I work very hard to let them know that it is a very doable process, and that I am there to support. From reading applications and essays, and helping them create an application timeline, to helping them realize the importance of taking an occasional break and enjoy being in high school – my hope is that they realize all is going to be okay, that they find the “right fit” college, and that they also fully engage in their high school years.
What motivated you to become a counselor?
I had been working as a teacher for All Saints’ Academy in Winter Haven for several years and was quite involved with student life at the school. A position in the counseling department became available and the ASA Headmaster asked me to consider taking it. He knew of my experience both at ASA and beyond, and felt strongly that I would be well-suited for the position because of my knowledge of secondary education and my rapport with students and parents. It was truly a pivotal moment in my professional career. I accepted the job and have been working in college and academic advising ever since. I truly love it!
How do you keep current with college counseling?
To stay current in my area as a college advisor, I have been lucky to attend multiple educational conferences including the annual FCIS (Florida Council of Independent Schools) conferences and the SACAC conference (Southern Association of College Admission Counselors). In addition, I read current periodicals and news publications, and have taken multiple continuing education courses in my current field. Furthermore, I correspond and meet with college admission personnel and travel to college campuses whenever possible to stay up-to-date on their admissions processes.
How do you apply the latest technology in advising?
Technology is extremely important in my job. One tool used at Holy Trinity by all high school students, parents and counselors is Naviance. It is a web-based program that has various career and college planning tools. Some are purely for exploration and education such as the Learning Style Inventory, Career Interest Inventory and College Search. It is also how we process transcripts and letters of recommendations for senior college applications. The students begin using it in ninth grade through our retreat days. Additionally, students are given information about other helpful technological tools such as test prep websites like Khan Academy, and scholarship search tools like Fastweb.com or Meritaid.org. And seniors learn to navigate college websites and application portals like the Common App and the Coalition Application with assistance from their college advisors. Furthermore, we have even used Skype to host virtual college visits with schools such as Duke, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and University of Virginia.
What are the most important life lessons you want a child to learn from HT counseling/college planning?
There are many lessons associated with college applications such as:
- Meeting deadlines (huge!)
- Writing professional emails
- The importance of editing essays and that details matter. (You’d be surprised how often students submit an application to one college but include the name of a different school in their essays.)
- Learning to advocate for themselves (colleges would much prefer to talk with the student than the parent or counselor).
But, the most important would have to be:
- Don’t be afraid to be yourself!
- There is more than one path to your goal. Be open to possibilities and just know that things have a way of working out!
What do you love about counseling, and about counseling at HT?
I love what I do, and I love the students. They are my motivation. Each is unique in personality and interests. It is exciting to look forward with them and help them navigate the transition to college.
Counseling at HT is truly special. There is no question what the end game is here. Not only do we have a specific department that focuses on college planning, but every program (academic, athletic, social or otherwise) works toward that goal.