Monday, May 30, 2016

The "how many things could I do wrong" Interview that was Oh-So Right!

Two years ago I was ready for a change and decided to participate in the transfer process in my school district. I was nervous.... 1) because I would be leaving my comfort zone of 6 years and 2) because this meant interviews! Interviews make me extremely nervous!! (I even get nervous if I am helping to interview someone else!)
I decided the best way to deal with this nerve-racking experience would be to just get all interviews over with as quick as possible. So I scheduled 4 interviews in 1 day (3 elementary schools and 1 middle school)..... Well.... I actually thought I had scheduled 3 interviews on one day and 1 the day before. 
I thought my first interview was on a Monday afternoon at a middle school. (By the way, I was talked into this interview because I wasn't sure if I was ready to move from elementary to middle school just yet. My former co-counselor and I used to joke about how we weren't "cool enough" to work in middle school.... of course...I've learned over the past 2 years that NO ONE is cool enough to work in middle school...according to middle schoolers). I showed up early in my cute blazer with resume in hand, but apparently I was a day early! Yep! I showed up on the wrong day for my interview! Amazing first impression, right? (Of course, my first thought was...."great! now I have to find another blazer to wear, now that they've seen this one!" --- so silly.)
So.... NOW I had 4 interviews in 1 day on Tuesday. 
I drove back and forth across my county all day, taking breaks at home to let dogs out, have lunch, freshen makeup, etc. My interviews varied....... one with 1 person, one with 6 people, one lasting an hour, one lasting 15 minutes, one with a tour and introduction to the staff! 
By the time 4:15 pm rolled around for my final interview, I was a little tired and perhaps a little more relaxed and more myself. 
The hour long interview included me swearing I was "not that flaky" and could actually show up on the correct day and time for most things as well as me answering "I don't know" to not one but TWO questions during my interview! (Not sure what I was thinking except that I really did not have an answers to those questions). I may have also mentioned my blazer dilemma. And... I was very upfront about counseling duties, the ASCA national model and RAMP. Like I said.... I think I was a little tired and more relaxed, so I was myself!
But the interview also included me sharing my purpose and passion to connect with students and to connect students with their education after my experience in the department of corrections. The principal then shared with me the focus of the school: C.L.R. = Connections, Literacy, and Rigor. 
Connections! This school blatantly focused on making connections with their students! 
I knew as I walked out the door from my interview that this was the right place for me. Even though I may have botched the interview and I had never worked middle school before, and possibly was not  even close to being "cool enough"to work in with middle schoolers, I knew this was the right fit for me.
One minute later I had a voicemail from the principal offering me the job and the next fall began our journey of "tending the farm" as we connected with our kiddos. 

(My current principal and I are working on a presentation about "tending the farm" and I will post more about this school connectedness initiative on this blog a little later.)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Why

 Do you know your why?
Just a few months ago a friend posted Michael Jr's Know Your Why video on Facebook. (see below)

This video ignites my passion about school counseling each time I see it. 
I know my why and it makes me excited to do what I do every day. 

My journey to becoming a school counselor began when I graduated with my Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Georgia. I accepted a position where I had interned during my final year as a Social Work major, an adult male detention center for the Georgia Department of Corrections. As a counselor in this correctional facility, my biggest lessons came while working with many gang and hate group members as the security threat group coordinator. My caseload of detainees was mainly made up of men who were a part of various gangs. These men, ranging from 18-50+ years old, were some of the most talented, charismatic, and intelligent people I had met. Yet... 90% of them had not graduated from high school. When I would inquire about their education it became very apparent that for most of them had no connection to school. They did not know anyone in their family or community who graduated high school and they did not feel connected to anyone at their school. School wasn't a place where as young men they felt they belonged or where they saw a path to success and opportunity. I knew after two years at the detention center that I could must get into a school setting to make an impact at an early age. 
After two more degrees (Master of Social Work and Educational Specialist in School Counseling) and a couple of other jobs, I finally found my place and purpose as a school counselor. 
Connecting with kids and connecting them to their education is my why! 
I look for ways to connect with my students and to connect them to their education constantly. Along the way I am trying out new things (like this blog!) to help me keep my focus on connecting and to share information about connecting with others. 

My good school counseling friend, Stacey Miller, constantly tells me to share what I am doing so that others can make an impact with kids too, so...... here we go... 

I plan to share lessons I have learned from others about making connections, initiatives and interventions for connecting and simple every day strategies I use to connect with kids.  I hope what I share is useful and/or idea creating for others!