PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — School counselors are essential in helping students achieve success as they work to support their emotional and social needs. Each day comes with challenges and one Pinellas County Schools counselor told ABC Action News it’s all worth it.
“I’m a school counselor, eighth grade,” Shante Norton, a school counselor for Pinellas County Schools, said.
Norton has been a counselor for a decade. She’s seen and addressed it all.
“Could be sudden homelessness, the death of a family member, a change in the family. Friendship issues, changes within the students themselves,” Norton explained.
She said one of the biggest challenges she faced as a school counselor, is time.
“We often run out of time to see our cases go through… Being only one person with a caseload of about 375 to 400. That can be difficult,” Norton added.
A licensed clinical psychologist of 25 years, Norton said school counselors are essential in providing immediate intervention.
“I think the role of school counselors is so important because many times first of all kids are in school six, seven hours a day. And also there’s someone there that can help deal with emotions right away. So having someone within the school is one super convenient, especially if families can’t get to go and see a therapist or they can’t afford one on their own,” Melissa Bailey, owner of Bailey Psychology Group, said.
Norton added that as a school counselor she has to address a lot of academic factors that get in the way of students being successful in school.
“If we see that there is a need for an intervention, or we see that a student needs some sort of triage, maybe to a community referral or a school psychologist, we’re there… We are very crucial in knocking down barriers to success. We celebrate our students’ success, but we are also there to pick them up when they need it. Provide interventions on all tiers in education for our students,” Norton explained.
She said in the last ten years she’s experienced both low and high moments. In the end, Norton added, when you’re fulfilled and your heart is full, the desire to be rich just isn’t there.
“I chose to be fulfilled in the work that I do. And I choose to get energy from my surroundings… We are the heart of student achievement and we are the backbone.” Norton said.