FIVE QUESTIONS: Myra Swift, Counselor at North Butler Elementary
1. Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been in education? In what areas have you taught?
"I have been an educator for the Butler County School System for 23 years. I was an Arts teacher (visual art, theater and dance) for 9 years, and a school counselor for 14 years. I have taught reading, math and writing interventions for all grade levels in the elementary setting. I have also worked as a School Psychometrist for Butler County Schools. I have a Bachelor’s degree in education, a Master’s and Rank I in school counseling, and an IIA endorsement for School Psychometrist. I have also completed my certification for Director of Pupil Personnel, Principal K-12 and Director of Special Education. I have been married for nearly 26 years to a former Butler County educator, Tim. We have two wonderful adult children, Dillon and Mallory."
2. Why did you go into school counseling?
"I have had the great privilege of working with all grade levels, regular education students and special education students. These students have blessed me so much, and I wanted to be able to give back and help the students and families that needed extra support. When I was ready to start my Master’s degree, I knew I wanted to work on a school counseling degree, and work in a great helping profession."
3. How valuable is the position of school counselor to the overall process of education?
"The biggest benefit of school counselors is that they prepare students for academic, career and social challenges by relating educational agendas to their success in the future. School counselors help to make students motivated learners and facilitate their exploration of careers. Counselors also encourage students to talk to their parents or guardians about the things that they are worried about. When students do not feel comfortable talking about emotional or social problems at home, school counselors may have individual counseling sessions with them. Sometimes counselors include the parents in these sessions for larger issues to determine whether outside counseling or support is necessary. The support that school counselors provide for parents and guardians is just as important as the support they give to students. They may facilitate individual, parent-teacher or parent-parent consultations and discussions to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to issues regarding the students, whether it involves disciplinary decisions, specific educational material or social provocations. School counselors might even provide education to parents and act as a resource when parents have questions about child-related problems. School counselors also ensure that parents understand the services that other staff such as nurses, psychologists, resource teachers and social workers can provide for students who have special needs or abilities. When the parents need extra support, the school counselors help them find it, whether it is within the school system or the community. School counselors are an integral part of the leadership in a school. They ensure that the school counseling program and academic mission are in line and promote student success. Counselors also develop a system to manage the program and help the administration use counselors effectively to enhance student development and learning. School counselors provide a great deal of support to teachers by being a part of the school leadership that can effectively address the educational goals and needs of students, leading to an increase in student achievements. They can help plan academic and behavioral interventions that meet the students’ needs and increase the students’ successes. School counselors also observe students in the classroom and provide observation data that can help in interventions for a student. School counselors work with special education educators and special education students. Most school counselors serve as the chairperson on the admission and release committee for special education meetings. A school counselor wears many hats and focuses on helping and supporting the students, families and teachers in their school."
4. What have you found to be the most rewarding part of being a school counselor? The most challenging?
"The most rewarding part of being a school counselor is working with the students and families. As a school counselor you become close to students and families, and they feel like your extended family. The most challenging part of being a school counselor is when you have done everything in your power to help and support a student and/or family, and it did not have the impact you had planned."
5. What advice would you give to those educators who may be interested in pursuing school counseling?
"Being a school counselor is a very rewarding profession. Being a school counselor requires compassion, patience and dedication as well as interpersonal skills, including listening and speaking. If you are an educator who wants to be a part of a wonderful helping profession, then school counseling may be for you! You are never too far into your career to get a certification or degree."