She had asked the student if she could share that particular entry with me, and the student readily agreed. I was expecting to read something about possible abuse, or insight into the student’s anxiety. But no, the teacher had asked the student to write a letter to her future self. One particular part of the letter read:
Hopefully, school is getting better. Right now, it’s hard. But you have Ms. H who is like your mother, and Mr. B is like your dad. And then you have Miss Bong, who is like your big sister. You can tell her anything.
It made me smile. As a counselor, my goal is have a special place in my kids’ hearts. I want them to know that I am always here for them. For some students, this means that I take on more of a mentor role, guiding them through this transition to middle school. For some students, it means acting almost like another parent, making sure that they get what they need to be successful. I am an advocate for my students, making sure their needs are priority.
West Allis-West Milwaukee has a theme for this year: Every Child Counts. I truly believe this. Every child that walks through the doors of our school is important. An even more critical point is that the students must feel as though they are important to us. We can stress that we care about every student, but if we fail to act like it, we may lose those students’ hearts. Losing that connection can lead to attendance problems, behavior concerns, and academic issues. By working to individualize learning for students shows them that we care. That they matter. That they are more than just a number to us. So long as we remember that each student is a person with unique hopes, dreams, and thoughts, we can succeed in our mission to win students’ hearts.
Every day I work with a student, I hope they leave my office knowing that they are special, that they are important, and that they are loved and valued for who they are. When I first joined counseling, I remember thinking that I wanted to be that one person in their corner, always rooting for them, always cheering them on. To be able to fulfill that dream and passion has been a gift. To have students write that I’m like a big sister to them is incredible. I feel so honored to have earned that trust and respect.
Days before I wrote this post, I found out that Fr. Naus died. He was an incredible person, someone who always had a smile on his face whenever he was on Marquette’s campus. Many of my friends have said that he would tell them, “See written on the forehead of everyone you meet today: ‘Make me feel important.’” It may sound like simple advice. But in truth, it is advice that everyone needs to listen to and follow. I plan on doing that with my students so that they know that they are loved, cared for, respected, and most importantly, special.