Mr. Johnson- The New School Counselor
Being a school counselor is not for the faint of heart. Students come to them throughout the day to ask for advice, change their classes, and sometimes just to talk about the things that have been bothering them. In this day and age where people are encouraged to talk about their mental health, a counselor has their hands full constantly. They face each and every person they see with respect and attention.
Mr. Alec Johnson joined the NHS team just this September as a new school counselor. After earning his Master’s degree from Rider University in December, Johnson made his way to Wayne Valley High School to work as a leave replacement. He remained there for about six months before making his way to Nutley. “I like the whole community feel,” Johnson said when asked about Nutley High School. “You can tell as soon as you drive in, it's like a real close knit town. People tend to stick around in Nutley.”
Mr. Johnson deals with a large chunk of the student body, the same as all other counselors. All students with last names from A-C are able to come down and converse with him. NHS students are divided by name, so each counselor has their own caseload. Each student needs their own individual attention to flourish into adulthood with no hiccups. Counselor provides support to help students find their way on their own.
When asked about the first day of school, Mr. Johnson said, “I had a great time meeting all my students, meeting all the staff, everyone’s been really helpful. Even the parents and students have been patient with me getting adjusted, and just trying to help them out as best as possible.” The first day is very hectic for a lot of people, and can often get overwhelming. When faced with this dilemma, Johnson took it head on. Having and being able to maintain this attitude is tough, but Johnson does it with seemingly no problems.
Having a strong mentality is important for a counselor, but paperwork is also necessary to stay on top of things. Emails to parents, teachers, a multitude of forms from students, complaints, concerns, meetings, and even more. Everyday, students come in and out their offices looking for guidance and help. The counselors are able to balance all these aspects and more to create enough time to make sure each student they’re looking after is doing well.
When Johnson was in high school, he had no clue what to do. “I really just ended up talking to my counselor a lot. They gave me really good feedback and really good information on my options. I attribute a lot of my success to my counselors because they really gave me the options to find out what was right for me,” Johnson said.
Counselors here at NHS are a resource for students. They’re here to help students untangle the messes they’re in. They’re here to lend a sympathetic ear. They’re there to be a friend, someone who can be relied on. They’re just people; people with experiences, and probably a lot of stories. “My door is always open,” Mr. Johnson said with a smile.