A Principal’s Perspective
Below is a Q&A with Buckingham County High School Principal Rudolph Roethel and College Advising Corps.
As a principal, what are some of your goals for your students’ higher education pursuits after graduation?
Ideally, I would like to see all our students have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education; however, since that is not the reality, I am looking to provide our students with options. Although students are plugged in to the World Wide Web many do not have a real understanding of what is out there in the “real world” with regard to opportunities. I am sure that many counties are experiencing the same sort of issues, so it is our intent to provide them with information about those opportunities. Given that we are a close community, having someone like a college adviser available and in-house allows us the ability to continue to provide a personal touch and contact with our students.
The fact that the College Advising Corps adviser recently graduated from college provides a closer connection to the students. This connection is very important for students’ development. They need to see the relevancy and relatedness of both academic pursuits and career choices. So often, students have a perception of what they want to do but not necessarily a realistic understanding of what it takes to get there. Providing them with the necessary support to traverse the myriad of steps necessary to pursue higher education is very important. Many parents may not have pursued postsecondary education and are not necessarily familiar with all that is required to adequately help their children with all the potential obstacles. I want our students to have the same opportunities that students in larger communities have. I am very proud of our students, and they should be afforded access to those opportunities
What are some of the issues facing your staff in providing college counseling services to your student body?
With advent of the Internet, having access to information is less of an issue; however, doing something with the information is sometimes problematic. Having a small counseling staff makes it harder to provide the necessary support. Our counseling staff does a tremendous job working with the students and is wholly committed to ensuring support. Yet, our counseling staff is stretched thin. Having the College Advising Corps adviser available has been phenomenal. Our adviser, Ms. Brittany Everrett, implemented programs that truly helped our students, something that would have been more difficult were she not here. The positive energy that she provides transfers to our students, and I have noted that a number of students who would not have seriously thought about postsecondary education began to do so. These students began to realize that they too have the academic wherewithal to succeed and pursue dreams. Sometimes, even though we say the same things that an adviser may say, it can be perceived differently and a little more dogmatic coming from another staff member. The fresh perspective and energy brought into the school by the program has had the effect of galvanizing and engaging students at a higher level. Dreams have the opportunity to become reality.
How has an adviser from College Advising Corps helped your school or these challenges?
Having College Advising Corps at the school has helped tremendously by providing our students with the information, counseling, and support necessary to aspire toward success. Our adviser was very active in bringing college representatives to the school, as well as organizing a number of innovative and creative events to stimulate the students to actively engage in their futures. Students initially were unsure of what the adviser brought to the table, but as the year progressed, they became more engaged in interacting with Ms. Everrett. She became a trusted adviser and support system. The adviser provides real-time support for students, which is essential since this generation lives more in the “now”.
What are some specific events or accomplishments that you are proud of?
One item that immediately comes to mind is the number of college visits – whether with representatives visiting the high school or students going to the college – we were able to schedule. Previously, we scheduled quite a few college visits, but having a person dedicated to this process freed my counselors to continue working in their traditional roles. The accessibility of the adviser and the organized manner in which she conducted all her programs is especially noteworthy. The open communication between the counselors, the adviser, and the administration is another aspect that has contributed significantly to the acceptance of the program.
What advice would you give to a College Advising Corps adviser about how to best integrate into a school?
It is important to understand the culture of the school and community. Having this sense will provide the adviser with a basis from which to plan. It is always important to keep the administration informed of what she is planning. Having that communication and support will help the adviser develop the necessary understanding of her role and how to best help the school. I would advise her and let her know that she is not an imposition and that she needs to advocate for her program. She can make a difference, and although it sometimes may appear that she does not get the same enthusiasm that she exhibits for a specific program, especially from the students, she is appreciated. From my standpoint, I would always expect honesty regarding the efficacy of a proposal and how it will best serve the students. It is important for the adviser to express her needs in order to prevent administrative items from getting lost in the shuffle. This year has been absolutely wonderful with my adviser. I am impressed with the drive, energy, creativity, commitment to the students and staff, and the utmost professionalism exhibited. I sincerely hope that such an important program will continue to grow. The sustainability is important, as that is an integral part if we are going to serve our stakeholders.
I sincerely appreciate this program and watching the change in our students and their interaction with our adviser has been extremely gratifying. I thank you your continued efforts in helping our students, and I hope that the association will last a long time. Our students deserve that chance at success.