Return to Normalcy for Counselors


Nathaly Lozado Arreaga

The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted education for current and future students. This unique collective experience has changed the ways of educators and students in Kearny High School. After the sudden return to in-person learning, counselors have been flooded with new responsibilities in ensuring the safe and comfortable return of students, both old and new. Counselors Shauna Hart and Nicole Iannotta spoke with the Kearnian to share their experiences and information regarding the return. 

Mrs. Hart approached this interview with a more professional perspective and spoke to me about the methods and lengths counselors were taking. She discussed the rigorous course of professionals that counselors were responsible for taking to be better acclimated to the changing school climate. The counseling department has been very busy with new students who entered the district over the course of the pandemic, many of which are entering the United States for the first time. With the new year comes the usual wave of schedule changes. However, this school year saw an unprecedented amount of schedule changes as counselors helped over 630 students. Along with schedule changes, counselors conducted freshman and sophomore interviews/meetings to ensure these students, who have previously never stepped into Kearny High, felt comfortable in their new home. Mrs. Hart explains how the counseling department is always willing to help, whether or not the student requiring guidance is assigned to them. Help period is always available to students who require assistance.

Mrs. Iannotta expressed her pleasure of being back in the building since it has made communication with students easier. If she could change one thing about how things were run during the pandemic it would be the lack of contact between students and counselors. With in-person learning, counselors are able to call students down or have students request meetings. In order to request a meeting a student must scan a QR code posted by classroom doors and fill out a form; after which they will receive an email containing their meeting information. Mrs. Iannotta then proceeds to explain some steps in the process of settling students back into the “normal” school life. She emphasizes the importance of checking class pages, SCOIR, and emails. If there are any questions that are still left unanswered, the easiest way to gain information is to simply ask a counselor. Mental health resources are always listed or on-hand at the counseling office. A program called SBYS is the main service offered by KHS within the school for mental health services. Academic programs, scholarship opportunities, events, college visits, and job opportunities are all examples of the type of content posted on class pages and SCOIR. Seniors are being guided in the college process through senior interviews. These interviews will consist of guidance through letters of recommendation, SAT deadlines, FAFSA, SCOIR, etc. They will usually last around one class period. 

Mrs. Iannotta shares her golden advice for the students of KHS. Above all “make sure you do everything you can to take care of yourself.” Mrs. Hart and Mrs. Iannotta consider their roles as counselors to be that of a supporter who will help guide and assist students in their endeavors during high school so they can be successful after high school. The counseling department is very excited to have all the students back in the building.