I have been an educator for 30 years and a counselor with DeKalb County Schools for the last 14.
Currently, I am privileged to work at Dunwoody High School, which is shining under its new administration. Our students are getting accepted at top colleges around the country, as well as at the University of Georgia, Emory University and Georgia Tech.
A strong team of counselors is critical in establishing a successful high school experience for each and every student, yet parents and community members are often unaware of the many services counselors provide to students.
We provide assistance to all students, not just those who are highly gifted or have learning disabilities.
In addition to aiding students with class selection, counselors help students in all areas of academic achievement, including assisting students with the very complicated and detailed college application process, encouraging understanding and tolerance in a multicultural and diverse population, and working with at-risk students in an effort to reduce the drop out and failure rates.
Counselors do much more. We stand ready to assist in ways that others cannot even imagine. We are there for not only the students, but for the school staff, as well.
Many times we are the ones students turn to when they feel there is no one else who can help them in navigating the murky waters of adolescence. We help students cope with a wide variety of matters, from personal relationship issues, to dealing with a family divorce, to grief counseling, to suicidal thoughts. We are the sounding board and support system for the next generation.
A few years ago, DeKalb County decreased counselors’ salaries, yet since then, we have been required to assume more responsibilities (including, but not limited to, those of the high school graduation coaches who were released as part of staff cutbacks). As you are probably aware, DeKalb teachers are scheduled to receive a well-deserved 4 percent raise, effective this fall. However, counselors may receive only a 2 percent raise.
Counselors are vital members of the educational team and deserve the same recognition with an equal salary increase as that of our teachers. We are all on the same team.
On behalf of all counselors, I implore DeKalb County to reconsider this decision and raise our pay by 4 percent, just as they have done for our teacher teammates.
Lisa Gordon is a counselor at Dunwoody High School.