National School Counseling Week just wrapped up with campus celebrations and recognitions. Since school counselors play an important role in public education, it is equally important to shine a light on them. Comal ISD employs 55 counselors who support, guide and encourage students from kindergarten to 12th grade on their individual road to success.
“School counselors are the heart of the schools,” says Tiffany Newkirk, the district’s coordinator for guidance and counseling services. “Our counselors work diligently to ensure that students feel safe and secure both physically and emotionally, and they support them in actualizing their goals.”
Katherine Tolbert has served as school counselor for 11 years and six of those years with Comal ISD. She is currently a counselor at Smithson Valley High School. With experience as an elementary, middle and high school counselor, she has worked with every age group.
“School counselors have the unique role of working with students, families, teachers and administrators,” Tolbert says, “and I greatly enjoy the collaboration with students, families and the Smithson Valley staff. As a high school counselor, I see my role as two-fold, being an advocate for my students and helping them learn how to advocate for themselves and keeping them on the right track to reach graduation through choice selection, monitoring their credits and working on making decisions for plans and goals after high school. We work with students in their decision making academically as well as helping them with social-emotional aspects of life.”
For Marsha Lippe, a CISD counselor at Startzville Elementary, the students are her motivation and passion for the profession she chose and the main reason she continuously looks for ways to improve her programs, workshops, clubs and more.
"As counselors, we are constantly researching, seeking out advice of others and attending conferences to continue to improve our craft and be the the best we can for the wide variety of themes we encounter daily. I do it for the students," says Lippe, who has been a counselor for eight years.
"These beautiful children inspire, motivate, love, challenge, enrich and teach me more each day than I could ever return to them. My goal is to ensure that each child feels wanted, loved, visible, safe and heard. My profession affords me the opportunity to live my passion and purpose to be an advocate for children. That is what it is all about."
Counselors are certified and licensed educators with a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling. This educational background prepares them for their role in the public school setting. They address students’ academic, career and social/emotional development needs at every education level from elementary through high school.
“Our elementary counselors focus on providing students with a platform to create a well-balanced character and emotional well being,” Newkirk explains. “Our middle school counselors work with students to refine and reinforce character traits and assist with navigating the teenage years. Our high school counselors pick up the reins and continue to provide opportunities and experiences for students to grow and focus on what is ahead. All of our counselors focus on helping students build resiliency and empathy.”
Thank you, CISD counselors!
Photo #1: Pictured are Smithson Valley High School counselors, from left Jasmine Wills, Katherine Tolbert and Marcia Murphy.
Photo #2: Startzville Elementary Counselor Marsha Lippe.