Who I am: My roles as a counselor, role model, and high heels wearer

shutterstock_120868852By Sabrina Bong — After a bike riding mishap this past weekend, I showed up to my internship site with four Band-aids on my right leg to cover up all the scratches I received from my tumble.

As I was walking down the hall to deliver some papers, two of my fifth grade students stopped me. One boy gawked at my injuries before saying, “Miss Bong, what happened to your leg?”

I explained to both boys that I had fallen off of my bike and scraped up my leg pretty well in the process. It was then that the other boy looked at me with a very serious expression on his face and said, “Miss Bong, you do know that you shouldn’t ride your bike in high heels, right?” (I wear high heels a lot at internship.) When I asked him why I would ride my bike in heels, he responded, “We all know you like your high heels.”

That conversation, in addition to being one of the funniest things I’d heard all week, really reminded me of my role at the school. After being a student for (gasp!) 19 years, I am most comfortable as “one of the crowd.” But now that I’m an adult (and almost a school counselor) I’ve become much more aware of the fact that the students absorb everything about me. I can casually comment to my classes that I am preparing to do a 25-mile bike ride, and then they ask me about how my training is each week. They ask about my weekends. They ask about my dog. It’s a totally different experience to be on the other side of the desk now. Plus, it makes me feel great that I have this kind of trusting, open relationship with my students!

Having that relationship also makes me really think about how I want to live my life. I see that, as an adult in the school, I have a lot of influence over my students. They look up to me. They notice what I do. They embrace my decisions and choose to do things that I have done. Once, I told my students that I kept a journal … and then the next week, half of them ran up to me to talk about the new journals they had started!

I had no idea that they had been listening so closely, or that what I did was suddenly the “cool” thing to do. Because of this, I want to be able to live a life that I am proud to share with them. I want to make smart decisions and show my students that you don’t need to have the newest gadget or most expensive shoes in order to be someone of worth. I didn’t realize that I have the ability, as an intern, to heavily influence what they do or how they see themselves. It’s an incredibly humbling experience.

Of course, knowing this also makes me a little sad. The end of the school year is approaching, as is the end of my time at both the elementary and middle schools. I have slowly begun prepping my students for the fact that I will not be at their school next year. But as sad as it is, I also am excited for what the future has to hold!

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