As the old saying goes, the best way to learn is through experience, and what better experience can one possibly get, than at Briarcliff Middle School!?
Fordham School Counseling student, Elizabeth Manuele, has been learning the ropes from guidance counselor Sara Piersons, and will be spending a full year side-by-side with her in Briarcliff.
“The last time I was here was years ago, when I worked as a summer camp counselor,” Ms. Manuele said.
Ms. Manuele is especially excited to be in-person this year.
“Last semester I worked remotely as an intern in a high school in the city, so it was very different to do everything online,” she said.
Another difference is that this is a middle school internship, as opposed to last year’s high school experience.
“Last year I worked mostly with seniors, so it was very different. There was a lot of college prep,” she said. “And city schools are very different from Westchester schools, especially in terms of the level of parent involvement.”
Prior to deciding to be a school counselor, Ms. Manuele shadowed a school counselor to get an idea of what it was like in real life.
“I spent a day shadowing a relative of mine, who is a school counselor on Staten Island. It was a sixth grade class and I sat with her when various students came in to speak to her, and also during sessions with students with individual education plans or socialization issues, such as anxiety,” Ms. Manuele said.
Ms. Manuele has a special spot in her heart for middle school students and hopes to eventually work with middle schoolers as a counselor.
“I feel like the issues are very different in middle and high school. When I interned in a high school, there were not as many personal issues that the students wanted help with,” she said. “What I like about middle school students is their vulnerability and that they typically don’t have an attitude yet.”
Another reason Ms. Manuele hopes to work with middle school students is from her own personal experience as a middle schooler.
“When I was in middle school I loved my guidance counselor and I had such a positive experience. I would love to be for these students what my school counselor was for me,” she said.
Ms. Manuele is looking forward to graduating from Fordham University in May and to finding a school counseling job in Westchester, but until then, she is excited to be at the school and to experience all the fun activities that are scheduled.
“We will continue with team-building activities this year, like with the snowflake competition we did last year, but maybe with less paper,” joked Ms. Piersons.