Unsung Heroes: Ms. Chin – The Guidance Effect

Atussa Kian, Staff Writer

Despite the plain walls and simple furniture, Ms. Chin’s office exudes warmth, a sense of almost immediate comfort.
As I pull out an upholstered chair to sit, it crosses my mind just how secluded and forgotten this room could be, being located towards the back of a long hallway.

Even upon greeting, it is easy to pick up on her humble nature. In true counselor fashion, she asks my interview partner and me how we like writing for the school newspaper and what our plans for next year are. I admit to my uncertainty in regards to my sophomore schedule and again, like a true counselor would, she subsides my fears telling me there aren’t many options to pick from anyway.

I begin by asking what she thinks prompted her to take the counseling career pathway. Was it her upbringing? Or perhaps was it her own high school experience that affected her ultimate decision?

Background, after all, does answer many questions one has in the present.

However, she shakes her head saying that she was simply looking for a career that involved interacting with people versus sitting on a computer all day. “A positive influence” was what she called it. She certainly never aimed to become a hero.

When I ask her if she considers herself to be a hero, she maintains her humble composure, bluntly rejecting the idea.
But how could that be true? Counselor’s guide hundreds and, in Arcadia High School’s case, thousands, of students shed their pesky ambivalence and turn it into a solid plan. This plan is what grants them the get the opportunity to become a hero, a leader.

In a student’s most defeated moments, counselors swoop in without question and guide them out of the darkness.
As former First Lady, Michelle Obama, so eloquently put it, “Students need to know that no matter how humble their beginnings, a good education and hard work can make anything possible…”

Yet, despite being such a compelling force behind education, counselors don’t always get the credit they deserve.

They have been called “useless”, and uneducated when it comes to “college admission strategies, standardized testing, and scholarships”.

A CBS Money Watch article reported that the data in a Public Agenda report shows that most 22 to 30 years old aim their contempt towards their high school counselors and not their teachers. At best, young adults rated their counselors at “fair” while many rated theirs at a disappointing “poor”.

In fact, Money Watch has posted multiple articles targeting counselors and their effectiveness.

So, in that case, how could they be possibly considered “heroes”?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a hero is “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities”.

Ms. Chin convinces me of her heroic status by simply relaying her schedule for the day. As she speaks, her eyes brighten and quickly it becomes clear that a typical day for her is jam-packed with prominent tasks and achievements.

“Well, today’s routine would be scheduling students; sophomores into their junior classes and then I have parent meetings. But there is no routine day. Every day is kind of different depending on the month or season.”

She says this all casually, so casually that is difficult to tell if she realizes the weight behind her words. Her day’s work positively alters student’s lives forever. Her work extends beyond the classroom and yet she says it with the ease of someone reading through their grocery list.

She admits that counseling so many students can be “overwhelming” but it is “cool” as well because you get to know so many different people with different backgrounds.

Heroic? Indeed.