So if seeing a teacher outside of school is strange, what does it feel to see your high school guidance counselor outside of school?
The first time was uneventful, and a little embarrassing, as it was at a club not far from my childhood home. I waved at him, so he would see me. I was feeling incredibly grown up at a nightclub, and though I hated and HATE him with a passion, I left it at that. But I was pissed off for the rest of that night.
Mr. LeRoy Howell is a horrible person and I hate him. HIS SOLE PURPOSE AT WORK IS TO HELP THE IDIOT TEENAGERS TO GET THE HELL OUT OF HS AND HEADED TO COLLEGE, and I feel he horribly missed the mark with me. Had he not wanted to help me, he could have passed me off to another counselor, but he didn’t and working in the underfunded school he did… let’s just say I have a deep sense of resentment towards him.
If I met with him three times in the four years I was in HS, it was a miracle. He never encouraged me to so much as sign up for community college classes. He never asked about my GPA, he never asked me my ultimate educational goals, or if I even wanted to go to college. Maybe I had dreams of getting married and popping out some kids, and that is fine, whatever. But Mr. Howell never bothered to find out.
My last interaction with him as a student was the day the universities set up tables in the small but beautiful social room of my high school, many years ago. I had never been notified of “University Day” and by the time I found out, it was after the fact, once they had already packed up and left. I went and waited in the counseling center to ask him why he hadn’t told me about it. His response?
“I don’t tell you to breathe and you do that by yourself.”
QUEEN, YOUR JOB IS TO WRANGLE US UP LIKE THE CATS WE ARE AND POINT US IN THE DIRECTION OF OUT WARD AND UPWARD.
Soooooo… A little about my life- First generation American on my dad’s side, he had no idea how to help me with university things here in the U.S. My mom though born here, had married at 18, fresh out of HS, and hadn’t gone to college either. The plan was as follows:
“You are our dependent child and your job is to go to school, we will support you in any way possible. Should you not desire to go to school, you must work and help with the bills. You are not allowed to be a freeloader. University is a great option; we hope you pursue that so you can have a better life; we can’t help you pay for it. Hope you can get some scholarships!”
While this is a good start, it’s not the be all end all of what someone should have to face at 18 years old for future goals.
I obviously had no clue about scholarships, grants, standardized tests to get into uni, and my inept counselor had no desire to help
Honestly, I had decent to above average scores on state mandated standardized tests- and I realize these tests are often not the best gauges of intelligence- but I’m not a foolish girl. I was a girl who was let slip through the cracks.
As I wrote about here, I had some pretty spectacular teachers, but I don’t think they knew how underserved I was by the school staff.
I sometimes drive by my old high school, it is majestic and stirs something in my heart. There is a large hospital that has been threatening since forever to swallow up the grounds, probably destroying the building to put up a parking lot. My alma mater has never been incredibly well funded, but it was a lovely place to study. There was a great mixing and mingling of different cultures, different backgrounds and diversity and a general harmony most schools would kill for. I was lucky to have graduated from that school and if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. And yet…
Late last year, shortly after moving back to Michigan there I was, in the bar, having a great time with my friend Gretchen on a Friday night. Guess who walked in!
You guessed it! Mr. Howell, wearing a nasty plaid print. I may have let the moment slip away with dignity as a teenager, but you know this time I wouldn’t go down silently. I ripped him up one side and down the other.
FUCK YOU, MISTER HOWELL! FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON!”
Mr. Howell looked shocked as I screamed at him. My friend Gretchen was working on her third Moscow Mule, not even bothering to raise an eyebrow to my outburst.
“I’m old as shit and only now getting my damn associates degree! You were a shitty guidance counselor and a shitty fucking human! GO FUCK YOURSELF!”
“So, you know Lee?” the bartender asked me as he took my empty copper cup.
I did not get kicked out.
In February of this year I went to meet a new community college guidance counselor, Felipe Lopez. He helped me map out a class plan to finish my associates in arts in Spanish in May of 2016. He undid some things a previous counselor had done that were not aligned with my ultimate goal of going to a four-year university.
He also pointed me in the direction of a scholarship, which I was awarded. I am currently taking eight credits and working 40+ hours a week. I feel like I almost vibrate with joy when I walk in and out of my math and science classes.
I do not consider any of my time wasted, as I feel more focused than many of my classmates, but I do often wonder of what would have become of me had someone extended some attention to me as an adolescent.