More than a Counselor, I’m a “Pseudo-Parent”!
Written By: Breana Marshall
“I call my students ‘my kids’ because in one year together they aren’t just kids on my class list, they are part of my heart.” – Anonymous
I am a Professional School Counselor at the high school level. This is my second school year in the profession and I see myself doing this for a while. Maybe not where I’m located, but this could be the career I retire in. My late friend/sister/mentor, Lynn Douglas, put me onto this career back in 2016. I was searching for another career path that allowed me to work one-on-one with kids. At the time I was working in a childcare center and was fortunate enough to stay with the same group of kids until they moved on to Kindergarten. They too, felt like my kids but that’s a story for another day. During that time, I saw a need in my class where particular students needed a little extra loving or support in the classroom. I wanted to do something that would give me the opportunity to address that, but I didn’t know what that “something” could be.
While working at the childcare center, I was on the marching band staff at my brother’s high school. My group of talented instrumentalists had grown to confide in me about their academics, personal concerns, and everything under the sun. Anyone who knows me knows that I will brag about my kids, post funny anecdotes, or pictures (with permission). Lynn saw that and suggested I get my license to be a school counselor. She had been one for a few years herself. I’d never thought about being a counselor, but after speaking with Lynn and realizing that a school counselor does exactly what I said I wanted to do, it was the obvious choice for my next career. I applied to my alma mater, North Carolina Central University, in 2016 and I received my Masters in School Counseling in 2019.
To my students, I’m not just their counselor. To them I’m “Mom”, “Mama”, “Auntie”, and “Cuz”. I absolutely love my kids with all my heart. And to me, they are my “big babies”. Unfortunately, I have a medical condition that will impact the birthing process of my own biological children in the future. I desire to have a husband and a family and I talk to God about it daily. My faith holds my belief that I’ll have that, but until then I have gracious parents who’ve lent their children to me eight hours a day. The love I receive from my students truly warms my heart and makes my job worthwhile. My birthday was in May and to my surprise as I walked to my office, my door was decorated with balloons, cards, and pictures, all done by my kids and a few staff members. They have a video of me crying; I was overwhelmed because I had never been celebrated like that before.
I’ve known these students for a little over a year and a half, but from our bond you’d think I’ve known them since they were younger. I’m not your typical counselor, my coworkers will tell you that. Some may not agree with my methods, but at the end of the day my duty is to support the whole child and that’s what I intend to do. Because of our bond, I know what goes in my kids’ lives outside of school. One of them works two jobs to help supplement their mother’s income, and another travels from one city to another for school because they live with their grandmother who has custody of them due to their mother passing away last year. They both came into my office one day tired, and couldn't keep their eyes open long enough to answer any questions. What did I do? I placed blankets over them and let them sleep. Yes, their teachers were upset that they were sleeping in my office instead of being in class, but they would’ve been even more upset had they went to class and fell asleep there.
Like a parent, I’m an active participant in my kids’ academics and extracurricular activities. They’ll ask for letters of recommendation, help applying for scholarships, college applications, and jobs. I've been to their games, tryouts, theater events, and etc. One of my seniors didn’t have an escort for Senior Night and they asked if I could step in for their absent parent. Another informed me they didn’t have a winter coat so, with permission from their mother, I gave them some of my winter coats I could no longer fit or don’t wear anymore. I could go on for hours about what I’ve done for them, but it’s when I get notes from them thanking me for being a force in their lives and that they love me that motivates me to be there for them. It’s not always sunshine and daisies because they can get on my nerves (the whole nervous system sometimes), but I could honestly do this forever if it means I get to love up a child and help them progress through life.