School of cards: counselors shuffle the deck

New counseling system aims to support student s throughout high school experience

Shifting from “specialists to generalists,” the counseling department is adopting a new model this year where a student has the same counselor for their entire Jones experience. Different from the previous setup where students worked with one counselor their freshman and sophomore year, and transitioned to a different counselor for their junior and senior year, counselors will now attempt to build relationships with their students throughout high school so they can develop a more personal relationship and learn more about the students.

“You have a better chance of getting to know your student, getting to know their strengths and weaknesses, and also being able to see them grow,” said Latoya Hudson-Spells, the department co-chair and counselor of last names D-G.  “It’s also good for families, for parents to be able to have that relationship with that person for the full 4 years. And it allows to really kind of become an expert in all grade levels versus having college stuff and having freshmen, personal social things.”

The change is meant to eliminate the previously flawed system where students had two counselors, one for their freshmen and sophomore year, and one for their junior and senior year.  Hudson-Spells explained that a large portion of information that the junior and senior counselor received about a student came from their freshman and sophomore counselor.  The new system ensures that the counselor will gain their own information firsthand from the student instead of another counselor.

The problem with this new system is that it is immediately implemented, meaning that some seniors are left with completely new counselors at the beginning of their most stressful year.  The counselors play an essential role in the student’s college admission process as they write a letter of recommendation for each of their students that is intended to include personal details about the students.  Many juniors constantly work toward building a relationship with their counselor in return for a more personal, genuine letter of recommendation.

“I know as a senior it can be very stressful having a new counselor, but on a positive note for some of the seniors who are going to be working with their previous freshman/sophomore counselor, so they’ll have that counselor back,” said Hudson-Spells. “That counselor already has some history with that student but for brand new counselors I think that we have people here that have experience so it’s not like anyone’s totally new to the process, that has experience, but I’m going to go back to junior year.”