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Getting to Know Sabrina Bartels

In honor of National School Counseling week, we’d like to introduce you to Sabrina Bartels, an alumna of our Masters in School Counseling program and a regular blogger for the Marquette Educator! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts

Helpinghands.svgI would like to think that I am a true Wisconsin girl. Over the years, I’ve acquired some specific talents that clearly indicate that I am from the Dairy State, such as drinking from a bubbler, making a brandy old-fashioned, and being able to name the Packers offensive line, just to name a few. I guess that makes it even more ironic that I, sadly, must admit that I am not Wisconsin born and raised.

Okay, half that statement is false. I am Wisconsin raised, but not born. See, I was adopted from South Korea when I was four or five months old, so part of my identity lies in my birthplace. But the vast majority of it comes from my wonderful parents and the good ol’ Midwest.

I grew up in Cudahy, which is home to Patrick Cudahy and their famous Applewood smoked bacon (fun fact: if you go by the Cudahy Family Library and the wind is just right, the entire parking lot smells like bacon. It’s pretty heavenly.) I lived with my parents, Jack and Diane – yes, just like the song! My dad actually grew up in Cudahy when he was younger, so I felt pretty cool being the second generation to grow up there. My immediate family is small, but we are pretty close. My dad and I used to watch Packer games together every Sunday, and if we couldn’t be physically together, we would text each other. My mom and I like cooking and baking together, or just catching up on our favorite TV shows. I got married in 2014 to my husband, Rob, and gained an awesome extended family, which includes my nieces and nephew. Getting to be “Aunt Sabrina” is probably one of my favorite things, and I love being able to spend time with each of them! Most recently, we went to a Monster Truck rally to watch the Megaladon truck (one of my nieces is big into megaladons right now.)

My parents always stressed the importance of hard work, education, and faith, all values that I found in common with Marquette University. I joined Marquette Nation in the fall of 2007, intent on becoming a news anchor or reporter. But by the time I hit my senior year of college, I was burnt out, and started doing some real soul-searching to pinpoint what I wanted to do with my life. I knew broadcasting wasn’t the life for me anymore – when you live with the mantra of “when it bleeds, it leads”, you hear a lot of depressing things – and I knew that I wanted to do something that would not only promote positivity, but that would make a difference in someone’s life. I had been a Burke Scholar during undergrad, and had spent a lot of time volunteering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter at Marquette, so I knew that working with youth was definitely what I wanted. After a lot of talks with advisors, hours of research, and some reflection, I decided to get my Master’s degree and become a school counselor.

It’s funny: I applied to two other schools besides Marquette, but I never actually thought about what would happen if Marquette rejected me. After four years of living on campus, I saw Marquette as my home. To me, that was my only option. I never considered another school as seriously. Maybe that’s because I remember applying for my undergraduate degree to many of the same schools, and feeling as though some of those schools strictly saw me as a number, or a certain “quota” that they had to meet. I felt like Marquette truly valued me as a human being, and I didn’t want to lose that connectedness. In the end, I was super blessed that Marquette said yes, launching me into a whole new chapter of my life.

I graduated with my Master’s in 2013, and have been working as a middle school counselor for the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District ever since. In some ways, it’s been a seamless transition; in others, it’s been quite an experience! Marquette prepared me to be a good counselor, but I’ve always maintained that no matter how much you learn in grad school, none of it compares to that gritty, real-world experience that you gain from the job. Books can only take you so far sometimes, and this is definitely a profession where some of it, you will have to learn from experience.

I love my job. I’m not just saying that; I really do. I love my coworkers, my admin, and my students. My admin are so supportive, and my coworkers are like family. We have a “work dad” who looks out for us and gives us advice, and a “work mom” and “work aunt” that are always there when we need them. And as for my students, they can be both a challenge and a joy. At my school, we “loop” with our kids, so I follow my students as their counselor from sixth through eighth grade. I think that’s one of the best things we do. I am able to build relationships with my students and their families, and in turn, they build a relationship with me. When my sixth graders transition to being seventh graders, they know that I will continue to be a constant in their academic careers. That’s really saying something, and I never realized how much of an impact that can have on someone. A lot of my students don’t have consistency in their lives – they may not know where their next meal is coming from, or which parent is going to be home that night – so it’s nice when they know that I will always be there for them.

And honestly, I have never looked back. Really. I have never once regretted leaving the world of broadcasting and becoming a counselor. And while counseling is all about the delayed gratification (most of my students don’t always listen to my advice right away, but I’ve had a number of high schoolers come back and tell me “your advice makes so much sense now!”) I’m okay with that. I know that in the end, I am making the world better. I am helping educate our future, and that is plenty of reward for me.

Plus, there is so much more on the horizon for myself, and for my district. We are moving further into the world of Project Based Learning, and are continuing to make fantastic strides in ensuring that all students have the mental health support that they need, whether that’s by having counselors, social workers, or school psychologists in the buildings. We have been starting up new programs at my school, including the Hope Squad and WEB leaders, to help give students more leadership roles in the building. Times are changing, and my district is ready to meet that challenge.

As much as I love my job, I promise that’s not all I do. I have a lot of different hobbies, and I try to fit them all in when I have time! In addition to spending time with family and friends, I love reading, cooking, writing, watching sports (preferably football or baseball, but it’s all about Marquette basketball come November!) and bike riding. Reading has always been my biggest passion though; my parents have fond memories of me reading “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” when I was in preschool. Though I will read almost anything, I am on a historical fiction kick. If you want a beautifully poetic book about World War II, please read “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. It is worth all the hype that surrounds it. I promise.

People always ask me what kind of advice I would give to future counselors, and it’s hard to say. I have so many things that I want to share, and if I had the chance, I would probably write a book about it. There is so much to learn, and yet, it’s not possible for you to learn everything. Like I said before, nothing prepares you for that very first day of being a counselor. Nothing can prepare you for how your heart will break when one of your students is being abused, or how sweaty you will become when you have to have a hygiene talk with a student. You have to be able to roll with the punches and just see how things turn out. I am far from a perfect counselor, but every day, I believe I learn something new that makes me better. A better counselor, a better daughter, a better wife, and a better person overall.

So maybe that’s my advice: learn something new every day. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You won’t look dumb, or ineffective. Consulting with others is all a part of the growing process.

Oh, and if you worked with a school counselor when you were younger, tell them thank you. It will mean the world to them.

Happy National School Counseling Week!

Getting to Know Our Alumni: Meet Jay Posick

This fall, we are continuing our series of getting to know our alumni! You can get to know more of our students, alumni and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Jay Posick, one of our alums!

I have lived in Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, and Waukesha, but have lived in Wisconsin since 1977. However, I currently live in Merton, WI. I am married to my wife of 27 years, Jenifer, and we have a daughter, Lauren, who is 19. I am currently the principal at Merton Intermediate School in Merton, WI. I enjoy learning alongside our students, staff, and families. I like the supportive community and the chance to celebrate the learning that happens in our school every day. Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 2.20.15 PM (1).png

My favorite educational experience is being in classrooms with our students and staff every day. We are embarking on determining ways that we can meet the social/emotional learning needs of our students and staff.  It’s so important as an educator to teach children and not just the content.

 I was drawn to Marquette as a track athlete and engineering student, but quickly changed to realize that teaching and education was really who I am and what I wanted to do. I am also a runner (I have a running streak that dates back to August of 1987) and some of our family trips have been to places that I have run marathons (New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati).

I am inspired to be my first principal as a teacher, Joe Vitale, and my first superintendent as a principal, Mark Flynn, as well as my #principalsinaction professional learning network on Twitter and Voxer. Any teacher or administrative candidates who would like to visit our school are more than welcome to contact me at jayposick@gmail.com or just stop by our school in Merton, WI.

Dear Future Teacher

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Dear Future Teacher

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Dear Future Teacher

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Dear Future Teacher

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Dear Future Teacher

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