The Dawning of a New Counseling Day

By Sabrina Bong — When I was six, I would play “school” with my friends. All of us really enjoyed the game, but I really reveled in being the teacher. To me, the best part about being the teacher wasn’t being in charge, or talking in front of everyone (though I did like that part too.)

My favorite part was having everyone address me as “Ms. Bong.”

Just recently, I started my practicum experience. Practicum was designed to give us future counselors the opportunity to shadow a counselor in our chosen field. I have the opportunity to work with Nate Rice, a counselor at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis. My first day there, he introduced me to his fellow counselors and a number of staff members. I also met quite a few students, all of whom addressed me as “Ms. Bong.” It was a little surreal having students call me that!

Even with only a week under my belt, I’ve already seen and learned a lot. For example, I was able to see Nate use a variety of techniques when interacting with students. When talking to a student and his/her parents, Nate conveyed support and empathy for both parties. He simultaneously encouraged student independence, while reassuring parents that they were important and had authority. I also was impressed with his relationship with the students. Not only did he know every student’s name, but he remembered specific information as well. He knew that one girl had talked about applying to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and that one of the boys who stopped in his office dreamt of being an engineer after high school.

Nate has definitely shown me what counseling is all about. There is more to counseling than the theory I learned in class. So much about being a counselor is tied to your hands-on experience. It’s about what you decide to do in the moment and how you react to the situation. It’s about your passion for the profession and the students you work with. Counseling can really influence a student’s life. Having that one person who believes in you and your abilities can have an enormous impact on a student.

Already, my practicum experience has been an eye-opener. But as surprising as some things are, I can also say that my practicum solidified my decision to be a counselor. In order to get to Nathan Hale on time, I wake up at six in the morning, which is quite an accomplishment for this certified night-owl. But for some reason, waking up at that time is never a struggle because I know that once I enter that high school, I will find energy. My passion for what I do will get me through the day.

Recently, a few of the high school counselors went to the local middle schools to talk about registration for their ninth grade year. During the presentation, one of the counselors said that though money was important for a job, what was more important was being able to get up in the morning and look forward to what you do each and every day.

I’ve found my inspiration. I’m ready to go.

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