During the week of February 6-10, Salem Community Schools recognized the counselors at each school and celebrated as part of National School Counselors Week.
Chris Mahuron is a counselor at Salem High School and said her favorite thing about being a counselor is when she can help a student or their family have something positive or good happen. Mahuron is a well-liked person at SHS and has many students that come see her throughout the day. Students go to her for advice, help with school work/ tutoring. If a student needs to talk they can go to her or one of the other counselors at SHS which are Jennifer Martin and Gayle Hill.
Mahuron said that helping others is the most important part of the job and the most enjoyable part of it as well. She said it helps make the behind the scene work that has to be done better. She wanted to become a counselor because it stimmed back to when she worked in her high school office as a summer job while she was in college.
Mahuron has been a counselor for 15 years and taught before being a counselor. She taught five years of science at SHS and 10 years of science at Salem Middle School. This is her 15th year at Salem Schools. She started as a counselor for SMS before coming to SHS as a counselor. Like everyone else she has goals she wants to accomplish: she wants to help students meet graduation requirements and to help prepare them for life after high school.
Mahuron said being a counselor is challenging because it is impossible to plan out how the day will go and what resources and skills will be needed for the interactions of the day. She also said it is heartbreaking when faced with challenges beyond their control or if there are no accessible resources they can provide to help. Mahuron enjoys being around not just the staff and students, but also the community as a whole. She looks forward to any major or minor success in helping students and staff and said that is what keeps her coming to school daily.
SHS counselor Gayle Hill is the newest counselor at the school. Her favorite thing about being a counselor is that she enjoys watching students discover their abilities to learn and grow, cope, overcome, mature and change. She enjoys being a counselor, she sees a need for teens to have people who can mentor and guide them as they navigate the road to adulthood.
Hill had originally intended to be a high school biology teacher or Latin teacher, however, she followed a different path by pursuing a career in corporate event planning and contract food management for 15 years. Then in her mid 30’s, she decided to return to college to pursue her original plan of working in education. At that point, however, she did not feel compelled to go into a classroom, but to work instead as a school counselor. She earned her license as a school counselor in the spring of 2022 and she is currently working on a second degree in clinical mental health counseling to use in private practice.
Hill’s main goals are to assist students with discovering options for their post-secondary lives; college, career, and/or military. She's also there to let students know that they have people standing beside them and on their side and they have options in life in spite of their background. Hill said being a counselor is difficult when she sees students get derailed by circumstances beyond their control and added that it is difficult to show students opportunities and then watch the students make poor choices that can negatively impact their future. Also, as a school counselor, she cannot provide ongoing therapy to students, so she has to refer them to other providers who can work with them in that capacity, and she said that it is hard when the students choose not to pursue the referrals.
Hill definitely loves her job working with high school students. She's a mother of two teenage children, so she is used to the age group. She looks forward to watching the students graduate each spring. She said it is heartwarming to see students take ownership of their future. The worst part of her job is seeing a student give up on themselves or sell themselves short.
She usually meets with 25-35 students one-on-one each week, she also sponsors clubs and tutoring where she sees dozens more students after school each week. Hill does enjoy counseling. She said that it will be difficult to leave SHS when the grant funding her position ends this school year. She started working as a graduate student at SHS in December of 2020 during her practicum under Jennifer Martin. She then started her first internship directly after that and continued working as she completed her MA as a school counselor. She has never taught in a classroom before but she has managed business and people before working in education.
Martin has been a counselor for 27 years. She said in all her years of high school, she never said she wanted to become a counselor. She knew she wanted to teach, but now she has been a counselor for many more years than she taught. She taught eight years of social studies and English before she became a counselor. In that past, Martin was a counselor at Orleans Jr-Sr High School and a college counselor at Trinity High School in Louisville.
Martin’s favorite thing about being a counselor is working with students and seeing how they grow and what they end up doing in their life. She said she does enjoy being a counselor. The reason she wanted to be a counselor is that it was a different way to work with students other than teaching. Her goals are to make sure students realize all of their potential and be successful in whatever they choose to do in life.
She said there are a lot of challenges on a daily basis, but there are lots of rewards, too. Martin said seeing how students treat each other is a challenge, no one knows what others are going through in their personal lives. What one person thinks is funny another thinks it’s hurtful. She wants what is best for students and said it is difficult to watch students who don't believe they are deserving or capable. She likes being around all the kids on a daily basis, she loves their energy and she learns from students everyday.
Martin always looks forward to Honor Day. Seeing how hard work pays off as seniors are recognized for their accomplishments and receive their scholarships, she said it’s her “Proud Mama” day. She said the worst part of her job is when a student makes bad decisions or has something bad happen to them. She said everyday is different.
She works primarily with juniors and seniors (which is about 260 students this year). She meets with them all individually throughout the school year (some she meets with several times) and she also meets with them in English classroom visits multiple times per year. Martin said being a counselor is enjoyable and rewarding, but also challenging and frustrating. No two days are the same. She doesn’t think people realize how many different things counselors do.