During the week of February 5-9, Minnetonka Schools joins school districts around the country in celebrating National School Counseling Week. Throughout a student’s journey in our District, school counselors provide irreplaceable support and guidance to ensure each student achieves personal and academic success. We are grateful for the encouragement, care and inspiration they provide for students and families. This week, make sure to thank the counselors for all the hard work they do!
In honor of National School Counseling Week, we connected two of our very own staff members, Paula Erbisch from Minnetonka Middle Schools West (MMW) and Briana Hunt from the Minnetonka Community Education Center (MCEC) to learn more about their roles as school counselors.
What is your role with Minnetonka Schools, and how long have you been part of the district?
- Erbisch: I have been a middle school counselor at MMW for 26 years!
- Hunt: I am a school counselor for Minnetonka Preschool and Early Childhood Family Education. This is my first year with the district.
Tell me about your history with Minnetonka Schools. How did you decide to start working here, has your role changed over time, and what do you do now?
- Erbisch: I was asked to apply here by the retiring counselor, Steve Frazier, after meeting at a conference. His enthusiasm about the students and staff was infectious, and I needed to check it out. Then I never left! The School Counselor role has holistically expanded over time, and we have also become pretty tech savvy, which is fun. What has not changed is that it is still the best job in education!
- Hunt: I chose to work for Minnetonka Preschool for the opportunity to work with our youngest learners. So much development happens at this age, and I believe the earlier we can give students the skills they need to be successful learners and kind people, the better! As the year has gone on, I am finding more ways to support and connect with students and staff.
Tell me a bit about how this role has been a good fit for your life.
- Erbisch: It is an honor to work with students at the middle level who are experiencing their highest highs and sometimes awkward lows. They need a safe and soft place to land, and I love being that for our school community. I also love that no two days are the same, and I have to be very organized and very flexible at the same time.
- Hunt: This role has been a great fit for me since I enjoy working with young children and teaching social emotional skills, whether it gets to be with small groups, one on one, or for the whole classroom. MCEC has been a very welcoming and supportive place for me to start my career!
What is your favorite part of your job?
- Erbisch: The humor, high energy and middle school fashion!
- Hunt: My favorite part of my job is getting to watch students learn new skills, like finding solutions on their own and identifying and talking about their emotions with the adults in their lives. I also enjoy getting to work and collaborate with other staff on our Student Support Team to make sure we have the voices of all expertise to support the whole child.
Any special memories or stories to share?
- Erbisch: I was the advisor for a student book club that wrote to everyone involved with the Twilight books and films, and Robert Pattinson [who played the Twilight character Edward] sent the kids a care package. That was a memorable day!
What is something that people might not know about your role, or how our counselors support our schools?
- Erbisch: During our career unit last week, some students were surprised to find out that School Counselors have a minimum of 6-7 years of college to be licensed for our role. We are well trained for our positions. When you are not sure who to turn to at school, reach out to the School Counselor. If we can’t help, we will connect you with the resource that can.
- Hunt: School counselors are here for ALL students. My goal as a school counselor is to be able to adjust to the needs of our families and students to support their overall wellbeing and set them up for their educational journey.
Counselors are integral to the Minnetonka Schools community. Let’s celebrate the expertise and compassion school counselors bring to our community this week. Thank you, counselors!