At McMillan Education we like to show the success stories of our students through the lens of their counselors who develop their deep connection with them. Here you will find Jamie Paul write about his relationship with two students.
Like most people these days, social and racial justice readings, podcasts (I recommend Nice White Parents from the NY Times!) and conversations with friends have been an important part of the past six months for me. While I expected encouragement and growth from a racial justice affinity group I joined, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself learning from the students and families I’m working with on the college search and application process.
One family responded to the COVID crisis by launching a non-profit, Cooking for Community, that raises money to pay restaurants (so they can pay their employees) and support locally sourced food. They then distribute the food to feed hungry people in the community (the elderly, low income folks, and immigrants). Haven, the senior who I got to work with, met with the leadership team to brainstorm outreach ideas, photographed events, and ran the organization’s social media.
Turner, an impressive young man I’ve gotten to know through his high school and now his college search, told me he wanted to write one of his college supplements about the racial justice discussions he’s had with his family. After he began to write, he ended up in deeper family conversations, then returned to our next meeting where I got to see and read about his significant shift in perspective. He told me about the “systemic pipeline” — and his own role in this — that makes it so hard for so many people and families to improve their circumstances. He realized that his predominantly white neighborhood and school experience had put him in a warped and dangerous bubble.
My conversations with Haven and Turner and my other students continue to teach me valuable lessons and keep me hopeful about the future. This is why I loved being a classroom teacher and now love my work as an educational counselor who gets to work with students one-on-one and witness their growth, idealism, and pure intentions.