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From teaching to counseling


Alexandra Thompson has left the classroom and headed to the counseling office

The incessant chattering of students has been replaced by the hushed tones of the kids new counselor Alexandra Thompson meets with everyday. She has filled the gap of a much needed fifth counselor for PRHS, a goal of hers that she has been working on for years. Thompson was, and still is, a teacher with a passion for educating and helping youth; that passion is now dedicated to advising high schoolers as they make their ways towards college.
In order for Thompson to become a counselor, she was a full time online student at National University, taking classes to get her counseling credential while also teaching a regular five period day at PRHS. Now that she has her credential, her days are just as busy; she is in charge of the entire freshman class, amounting in about 600 students.

“On average I see 10-15 students a day, ” Thompson said. On a really busy day she can see up to four students a period and says, “There is no typical day being a counselor.” Along with meeting Bosterwith students, Thompson also has from one to five meetings with parents and administration daily.

Although she says she is sometimes, “drowning in call slips,” she really enjoys counseling and does not want her heavy case load to scare people away, “I want to meet with everybody,” Thompson said.

Thompson has taught Geometry, Algebra 1, Algebra Foundations, and Geometry Investigations at PRHS for three years, but prior to that had taught at Juvenile Hall Schools in Kern County; specifically: Camp Owen in Kernville, STAR Academy at Juvenile Hall in Bakersfield and Sillect Community School in Bakersfield. She taught at those schools for a year and a half, as well as Nipomo High School for two years.

“My favorite part about teaching is when kids finally understand something in math that has been challenging them for a while; I call them lightbulb moments,” Thompson said.

Thompson still is greatly appreciated by many of her students. “She’s my favorite teacher from last year…she’s super nice and a good teacher. She makes things make sense,” said sophomore Victoria Phillips, who had Thompson as a Geometry teacher her freshman year.

Judy Smith has filled the gap that Thompson left when she decided to go into counseling. Smith is now the new permanent teacher for Geometry and Geometry investigations. “It’s always hard for a teacher to come in halfway through the year … but that said, I think she’s doing the absolute best she can,” Thompson said.

Thompson made many emotional connections with her students, but in the end she believes that, “I have the unique opportunity to know students already and I think it is a huge advantage,” Thompson said.

Debbee Schmidt is a fellow newcomer to counseling at PRHS and has worked closely with Thompson.

“I love her… she’s really easy to work with and she’s super smart,” Schmidt said.

She started at Paso High at the beginning of the school year and knows what it’s like to be the new kid on the block, “I was the newbie and now I get to sometimes be the newbie teaching the newbie,” said Schmidt, who also has a heavy caseload of around 450 students.

She says the thing she admires most about Thompson is that she, “really cares about kids.”

Thompson is looking forward to her new job as the freshman counselor and making new relationships with her students. It was hard for her to leave the classroom, but the love and passion that she poured into teaching now is directed towards helping kids prepare for college and beyond.

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