As part of our 30 Days of Back to School series, we’ll be interviewing other professionals who work with teens in and out of school. How can we collaborate to better serve our teens? Where do our services overlap, and where can we pass the baton to more effectively meet young adult needs?

First up: Molly Gesenhues. Molly is a guidance counselor with Chicago Public Schools who was also gracious enough to participate in YALSA’s full-day pre-conference in Washington DC.

mk: Thanks for joining us! Can you start by telling us a little bit about your job description?
Molly: Well, I’m a high school counselor. I work with students grade nine through twelve on their academic, social-emotional, and post-secondary goals. I get to see teens on an individual level as well as in groups and, if I’m lucky, in the classroom.

mk: What does a typical day look like for you?
Molly: There really isn’t a typical day when it comes to the schedule of a school counselor. I do my best to make a list and stick to the general calendar that a high school student may need to focus on as well – tests, secondary planning, social engagements. Most important to keeping my job are my students graduating from high school, so keeping close tabs on their grades, classes, and transcripts can take up a lot of my time. However, I’m often trying to find ways to research better ways to reach my students individual needs and understanding what it means for them to be successful.

mk: Where do you go for your research needs?
Molly: I often put myself in the shoes of what is being thrown at my students–which is way too much information.
For example, scholarship information for undocumented students? It’s a very prominent in my school, and no one seems to know where to turn. I end up using Google a lot. When it comes to careers, I found that our librarian has put together some of her resources to buy specialized books that reach our students’ particular needs.

mk: What do you wish other professionals in your building–from teachers to librarians to administration–understood better about your work?
Molly: How much working with students needs to be a collaborative approach.

mk: What do you see as barriers to collaboration?
Molly: Short class periods, multiple demands on faculty and staff, and personal issues that interfere with working with colleagues.

mk: Last question: how can librarians in particular better support guidance curriculum?
Molly: Like all members of the school community, they should understand what the counselors’ responsibilities are in order to collaborate with guidance in ways that fit a librarian’s role. I see that collaboration ranging from providing a space for students to meet in groups with their counselor and use of library computers to helping counselors work with students to research post secondary options, like essay writing or resume building.

mk: Thank you for joining us and best of luck with your school year!
Molly: Thanks for having me. And if you don’t know who the counselors are in your building, introduce yourself and let them know what you do!

About mk Eagle

I'm the librarian at Holliston High School, a bit west of Boston. In my spare time I advise my school's yearbook and Gay Straight Alliance, write about food, and root for the Red Sox.

One Thought on “30 Days of Back to School: Working with… Guidance Counselors

  1. Book clubs with staff or book clubs for kids at school using good Young Adult Literature such as:

    What Lies Beneath by Mark Kevesdy

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