By Oscar Mendoza ’19, Mohigul Nasimova ’19, and Eric Huang ’19
In college, students have to make academic decisions themselves, but in high school, they are supported and guided by their guidance counselors.
Midwood currently has 16 guidance counselors, 4 of whom are new this year: Ms. Megan Thomas, Ms. Kristine Fitzpatrick, Ms. Victoria Powell, and Ms. Prairna Sethi.
Ms. Thomas recently graduated from NYU Graduate School where she got her Master’s Degree in School Counseling. This is her first year as a guidance counselor and she said the experience is great so far. She also said that the job is very demanding, but that she enjoys the challenge.
She likes Midwood and thinks it a great school with a large diverse student population. According to Ms. Thomas, the school has a great staff of teachers and APs who have helped her transition into her new job.
Originally, Ms. Thomas was a graphic designer, but she didn’t enjoy the job much, which is partly the reason why she became a guidance counselor. She considers herself a “people person” and being a graphic designer taught her to be creative, which is always helpful when working with students. She loves her new job and is looking forward to meeting and helping more students.
Ms. Fitzpatrick, who recently graduated from Brooklyn College, was a substitute teacher and a banker before beginning her career as a guidance counselor. “I feel that it’s important that you stick around for your students and get involved in your school,” said Ms. Fitzpatrick.
Ms. Fitzpatrick has recently started a new program, Restorative Circles, where students, picked based on similar schedules, meet in small groups to do activities, lessons, and discussions. Once the program is finished, new students are then introduced into the group.
Another program, Mindfulness Training, was also introduced by Ms. Fitzpatrick and other counselors. Mindfulness Training focuses on being more “grounded” by practicing
Buddhist meditation and yoga in order to be more relaxed and calm.
Ms. Powell transferred to Midwood because a program she was part of in Transit Technical High School faded away. In her previous school, she was a teacher for two years and then switched over to be a guidance counselor.
“When I entered Midwood, I felt comfortable and warm as students and teachers were welcoming. As a former Midwood graduate, I felt right at home,” she said.
Ms. Powell said she enjoys talking and helping students and gets happy about their success. She mentioned she also likes talking to students because she learns about the latest trends and get updates on their lives.
Ms. Sethi, another NYU graduate, has been preparing for the career of a guidance counselor for three years. She worked and volunteered in many schools at a young age and helped students throughout her life. She stated she has always enjoyed spending time with students and helping them.
“There is a sense of community at this school, and that is something I always wanted to be a part of,” said Ms. Sethi.
At the age of 16, Ms. Sethi started volunteering at her elementary school and was able to educate kindergarten students. During her college years, she worked in a preschool to help disabled children. Most of her work was with younger kids. She stated she came to realize that she favored working with high school students because there is a level of understanding with them that younger kids don’t have.
Her difficult high school experience also contributed to her career as a counselor. As a minority student at a predominantly white school, she stood out and “felt isolated due to the conflicting cultures.”
Ms. Sethi said, “It felt like nobody at my school understood me. Nobody in terms of guidance counselors and people who were supposed to understand. I really wanted to be that person for other kids.”