Madison Aker & Julianna Catena – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – A new year for Mustangs means new schedules, new classes and new people. However, people may not realize how much grueling work goes into making these new schedules for the incoming school year, or who even makes and revises each and every one.
Lakewood Ranch High School guidance counselors help straighten out over 2,400 students’ schedules every year. These guidance counselors include Evelyn Williams (Students A-Co), Tracy Jordan (Students Cr-Hi), Melissa Alter (Students Ho-Mc), Melody West (Students Me-Sa), Brandi Clark (Students Sb-Z), and Michelle Todoroff (College and Career Counselor).
This year, the guidance counselors have been courteous enough to answer a few questions about themselves in an interview amidst all the chaos of schedule changes.
Melissa Alter (Guidance Ho-Mc)
Mustangs Ahead (MA): What made you want to become a guidance counselor?
Alter: I attended a liberal arts college, earning a degree in psychology & sociology. I didn’t feel like I had specific skills for a particular job/career after graduation, so I worked for the family business for a while and later came across a University of South Florida catalog where I found a master’s degree in “Counselor Education” and knew it was for me! Of course, I wanted to help others and being a school counselor would allow me to be there for teens by encouraging and believing in them.
MA: For you, how is the first few days of school?
Alter: Hectic, of course, but I told myself to be calm this year and take one issue at a time since I feel like I have to take care of everyone’s issues/needs as soon as possible, which, of course, isn’t possible. I just want parents and students to understand we’re working hard to address everything quickly and really, 80% or more do understand and express gratitude.
MA: What are some advantages of being a guidance counselor?
Alter: As for teachers, summers off of course! Mainly it’s knowing that you might be the one adult a student has some kind of connection with, who is willing to listen and whom they can seek out when in need. (Often, I realize it’s hard to be that person for my teenage daughter vs the typical mother/daughter relationship.)
MA: Where are you from? Where did you go to college?
Alter: I’m a native Floridian, born in Tampa. I attended Erskine College to get my bachelor’s degree in Due West, South Carolina on a soccer scholarship. I then attended University of South Florida for my master’s degree in Tampa.
MA: Do you have any hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Alter: Hauling my daughter around! I like to listen to music and drive, as long as traffic isn’t too heavy!