Making a difference in students' lives, every day: celebrating school counselors

Posted: Tuesday, February 12th 2019

San Diego Unified students and staff recently celebrated National School Counseling Week by paying homage to the Counseling and Guidance professionals who work to make a difference in our schools.  The official week of recognition took place during February 4th – 8th, but the positive impact school counselors make is a yearlong benefit for San Diego students.

Students in several schools were eager to thank their counselors and show appreciation for the effort they put forth every day, as captured in some of these pictures.


In addition to providing academic guidance and implementing programs for personal and social development, San Diego Unified counselors are there when students simply need someone to talk to. The ability to be a confidant, an ear to listen and a voice of guidance when needed, is what makes our counselors such an important part of the school community.

Elizabeth, a fourth grader at Angier Elementary, explained why she's thankful for her school counselor: "She makes the school a better place!”


We asked a few of our school counselors about what this role means to them, and what inspired them to pursue a career in the field.

Vanessa Mendoza, school counselor at Johnson, Webster, and Euclid elementary schools

“The reason why I became a school counselor is that growing up, the only other influential adult in my life besides my parents was my counselor. I was lucky enough to have one in elementary school, middle school and high school, and those just became women that I look up to, to this day.

Even though I don’t know where they are, I’m very thankful to those individuals, those professionals. So I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. What I love is the opportunity to learn from my students as much as they learn from me. Every single year I’m amazed at how much I grew from this role, for my ability to mentor and support and advocate for these kids.

Amanda Cutler, school counselor at Walker Elementary School

“The reason I became a school counselor is because when I was deciding what to do for my graduate program, I had no idea, and I went to University of San Diego and met with a woman who explained all of the different possibilities that I could do. By the end I looked at her and asked, ‘What is it that you do?’ Because I’d never received so much help in my life, and had seen somebody I’d known for thirty minutes so invested in my future. And she said, ‘I’m a school counselor!’ So I said that’s what I want to do.

What I love about being a school counselor is working with the kids, and teaching them such meaningful things, and then seeing them use the tools and practice it. The empathy and the change in the school climate that’s happened, since we’ve started doing certain things such as Second Step and restorative circles, it just builds better community. I know that it’s setting these students up for wonderful futures where they’re going to be super successful because of the social skills and empathy that they’re learning.”

Caroline Karoczkai, school counselor at Mission Bay High School

“I’ve been a counselor for about ten years now, and I absolutely love it. It’s the perfect job and I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I just really love being able to problem-solve and be creative, and work with students of different ages. There’s never a dull moment, there are always challenges, and there are always so many rewards and fulfilling tasks that I’m given.

The relationships that I get to build with students is priceless. It’s so much fun and they make me laugh all the time, and I just really value my position and being able to help people. I became a school counselor because I always liked to be around people and I would get asked for advice, so it seemed like a natural fit.”

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