My first graduate degree is in school counseling, my current area of practice. As far as I knew my hopes and ambitions in the world of education started and stopped right there. I wanted to counsel students on the serious issues they faced: college planning, bullying, relationships, difficult parents and just being a teenager. While I had enjoyed my time in the classroom, the thought of instructing thirty students didn’t speak to me the same way having a heart to heart conversation with a teen in need.
My first year as a school counselor wasn’t exactly everything my grad program had led me to believe it would be. The way textbooks said my day should look was far
from the routine in which I found colleagues and myself. The department was
doing good work, but I wanted to do more than good work, I wanted to make a difference. When that desire to do more didn’t go away I knew it was time to go back to school.
My department chair was retiring in two years and I wanted to be the one to succeed her. I wanted to take the step into administration and chart the course for the counseling program. My program in School Improvement Leadership began and with each course I found my ambitions growing; department chair, assistant principal, principal or maybe some day super intendant. Where my counseling degree focused narrowly on the role of the counselor with the student, my SIL degree propelled me to think about my impact on an entire school system.
As I became more aware of the impact systems had on students and teachers, the more I wanted to be a system shaper. I took my internship seriously and sought out every opportunity I could find. I used my role as school counselor to advocate not just for individual students but also for school wide change. I developed a mission and vision for my department, complete with a five-year plan. I networked, I prepped, I rehearsed and then I interviewed for the position. No one was more prepared, polished or motivated for that position.
And then I didn’t get the job. I thought to myself, how was I going to bring about change if I wasn’t an administrator? The next few weeks were difficult at school. I constantly saw areas that could be improved but felt powerless to implement a change. Then, something clicked. I wasn’t the department chair but my colleagues still came to me for advice. I wasn’t an administrator but I still had good ideas and the will power to see them implemented. I was still a counselor but my view of my school was now beyond the four walls of my office.
That is where I am today. Still seeking that first administrative role but no longer waiting to make an impact on my students, school or the broader educational community. We don’t have time to wait for the next role or job. We can be difference makers now.