East Tenn. school counselors honored during National School Counseling Week

National School Counseling week has begun, and this year’s theme is “school counselors helping students dream big.”
Honoring school counselors and all they do for students.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 7:13 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - National School Counseling week has begun, and this year’s theme is “school counselors helping students dream big,” sponsored by the American School Counselor Association.

From Feb. 6 through 10, 2023, National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

Andrea McBryar is a school counselor at Anderson County High School, and she said this week’s theme is an easy one considering she tells her students to dream big every day.

“I think dreaming big is something I always want to encourage my kids to do, and they encourage me every day. I just truly love my job,” said McBryar.

Guidance counselor used to be the correct term but now school counselor is the term used as the scope of the duties has changed and evolved drastically. Kat Coy, one of three school counselors at Knoxville Catholic High School, said every day is different.

“A real core of our job is we’re master level trained counselors to help with the academic college and career personal and social needs of every student, so we are multitaskers, and we are trained to deal with whatever walks in the door,” said Coy.

In Tennessee public schools, there is one school counselor for every 500 students. In Knox County, there is one counselor for every 350 students.

Some counselors even have to split their time between multiple schools, which makes it harder for counselors to develop a relationship with the students. Coy said she’s lucky she has a smaller ratio of students she sees.

“One to 170 so I can genially know my students sometimes on their dismay, you know find when I see a grade I don’t like and get to support them and know them and help create a path for them for life after high school,” said Coy.

School counselors know each student is unique and what works for one student might not for others. School counselors do their best to help each student determine the path that is best for them, whether that be college or a trade.

Both counselors say said since the pandemic, students have been needing mental health services more than ever. McBryar said she keeps snacks in her office to always have something for the kids when they need it.

“They get stressed and then they sort of get paralyzed and helping them talk through that is important, giving them coping skills and strategies to help them work with their anxieties and with their stress being able to kind of move forward sometimes. It’s just like, you know, ‘My mom is going through some stuff,’ or ‘My brother just went to jail,’ you know ‘I don’t really want to do geometry today,’” said McBryar.

Coy said she hopes Tennessee can get the funding to hire more school counselors because it only helps the students more.