Counselor Laura Schnitzler is one of the four school counselors at Highlands High School. Her official role is the counselor for students with last names ranging from A-G. However, her duties include much more beyond typical “guidance counseling”.
On a daily basis, she works with students to help improve their mental health, personal and social development, and making sure students are on track with their academic and career goals.
Schnitzler has worked as a school counselor at Highlands for six years, beginning with the 2013 school year. To become a school counselor, she acquired her undergraduate at Union College and then earned her master’s degree in education in counseling at Xavier University in 2004. Becoming a school counselor didn’t happen right away, though.
Before this job, she held a position at Highlands as an English teacher. She first began this position in 2002 — the start of her now 17 years at Highlands. She did enjoy this position, though it was very different from her current one.
“When teaching English, I was focused on teaching English to the best of my ability, whereas now there’s more to worry about. It’s not just their academics, it’s their whole life.”
After teaching English, she began her current career as a school counselor, though she hasn’t always performed the same tasks. When she first began counseling she was mostly left to the tasks of helping with various projects while advising students that came to her with a problem. After two years of that, she moved on to becoming the freshman counselor and helped them schedule and transition smoothly. However, this year, the format changed once more due to Counselor Ann Listerman being hired. With this, Schnitzler settled into her current job: helping students last names A-G.
To go more in depth, her job consists of a multitude of tasks, despite popular belief. Not only does she provide personal and social support for students that come to her, but also keeps track of the students she manages to make sure everything goes well with their social and school lives. Speaking of school life, she works hard to ensure students are in the right classes and have access to a tutor if they need it. On top of this, she also is a career counselor, helping students create and follow a career path.
She loves her career and the different duties it entails, “My favorite part of my job is that every day is different. I really enjoy helping students, whether they’re having a problem or just want to come in and catch up. I really enjoy that interaction with students. I also like that I’m not doing the same thing every day. There’s a level of excitement that comes with not knowing what you’re going to face when you come in every day.”
Though lots of her work is solo, Schnitzler also states that the guidance department works together as a team. They often have meetings with principal Matthew Bertasso, vice-principal Jeff Schneider, or athletic director Kevin Nieporte. Besides these team meetings, the department also works together on and occasionally switches duties.
Though Schnitzler enjoys her job, it isn’t always easy. To her, the hardest part of her job is meeting deadlines. She says she never knows when something is going to pop up, whether it is a meeting with a student or taking a phone call. Sometimes, these pop-ups can make her career difficult, but they do keep it interesting.
Through Schnitzler’s 17 years at Highlands, she’s always gone the extra mile when helping students or working with the rest of the counseling department.
“Whenever I’m meeting with a student, I make sure to ask them if there’s anything else they want or need to talk about,” she says.
Her caring and helpful nature allows her to be a great fit for the job. Schnitzler appreciates that there is never a dull moment in school counseling, and the Highlands staff and student body appreciate her dedication to her career.