EDITED 9/24/2018: The current UHS enrollment is 2,374, not 2,617 students, which brings the student-to-counselor ratio below the national average. In addition, Ms. Kara Kenney is currently working a 20% contract due to decreased student enrollment.
BY VINCENT WOO
The departure of former counselor Ms. Christine Krueger and the addition of Ms. Kara Kenney to the counseling department has caused changes to groups of students classified by surname.
According to counseling co-department chair Mrs. Angelique Strausheim, while the rest of the counseling staff handles groups of students categorized by surname, Kenney is not assigned to a caseload of students due to decreased student enrollment, and only works a 20% contract at UHS. Therefore, the surname distribution, formerly divided into six counselors, is now divided into five.
In addition, Krueger left the department because the need for full-time counselors decreased.
“As our enrollment decreased, so did our allotment for staffing,” Assistant Principal Ms. Connie Park said. “One of the reasons [Krueger] left was for the opportunity to seek full-time employment.”
To compensate for Krueger’s departure, the department hired Kenney, who is working her first year as a professional school counselor, both at UHS and South Lake Middle School.
Kenney’s duties involve “teaching DISCO [a program to assist students with their academic progress], counseling students enrolled in Learning Lab,… assisting the counselors with guidance lessons, [as well as] junior [and] senior meetings, parent coffees, and conferences.”
The counseling department has seen significant changes in staffing in the past three years, with several counselors entering and leaving the department for various reasons.
“At least one counselor retired, one counselor left to become a stay-at-home mom, one counselor moved to a district significantly closer to her family and home, and another left to go to another site in order to help open a new school,” Park said. “Two [counselors left] in order to seek full-time employment since we could only offer part-time to those counselors.”
Despite the American School Counselor Association (ASCA)’s recommended student-to-teacher ratio of 250 students per counselor, the national average currently stands at 482:1. UHS currently has 2,374 students enrolled including Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students, with five counselors and one DHH counselor, putting the school’s student-to-counselor ratio at approximately 475:1, which is lower than the national average.
With the multitude of changes in the counseling department, many students have not been able to establish a connection with their new counselors.
“I used to have [Mr. Ryan] Itchon, and I knew him very well in my freshman and sophomore year,” senior Rojan Javaheri said. “But then he left, and I didn’t who my counselor was junior year, and I was confused. And then they changed my counselor [again], and I was more confused.”
Although a good relationship with one’s counselor is optimal for counselor recommendation letters, which are required in order to apply to most colleges, some seniors are not too concerned.
“I don’t really think it will affect my counselor college recommendation letter because I never was really close to [my original counselor],” senior Alexandra Dang said. “So either way, I would have to get to know my counselor regardless.”
Despite the profusion of changes that have affected the counseling department, Kenney still “would love to stay at Uni in the future.”