Thursday, July 7, 2016

My Time at Hickory High

Two and a half years ago, I closed a chapter of my life and started a new one. I started a whole new career in a place I didn't know a soul. I was desperate for change and eager to learn. I traded in my DSM as a mental health counselor and entered the school counseling world! I still had to travel half an hour to work everyday, and I had to get up earlier, and I couldn't wear jeans anymore. I didn't know how much I'd love it, but like I said, I was eager and ready!

Graduation 2014
I joined the staff at Hickory High School mid-year, which I don't ever recommend for a brand new school counselor. I had a lot to learn and asked my team members a million questions. I learned quickly and there was a handful of students who I gained actual relationships with who I was able to help in my short time with them before they graduated that June. That felt nice!

The next two school years I had the wonderful experience of working with some of the best in the business, seeing how things really work in a school, gaining some unforgettable relationships with some of the most amazing young adults, and doing what I could to help my team, my students, and my school.

Graduation 2015
Graduation (morning) 2016
Growing up, going to Lincolnton High, I had Wolfpack pride! Especially after my years at Appalachian State, my "pride" colors were black & gold! For a few years I will admit that I cheered for North Lincoln High School, but that was only because my brother was playing football for them. After he graduated, that wasn't a thing. I luckily got to put my black & gold back on for a couple years when my cousin Nick played football for LHS. That felt good to pull for my home team again! (If you know me, I'm not usually at sports events unless I know the players. I'm their fan, not really a "sports" fan, ESPECIALLY if it's cold out.) So when I joined the staff at Hickory High, I have to admit, it was weird. I have never been "a part of" another school before, aside from Lincolnton High. I didn't own anything garnet & gold... sounded like Redskins colors to me!!

Slowly my wardrobe grew and I now have approximately 700 Hickory High t-shirts and random garnet & gold wardrobe staples and accessories. When people around town (Lincolnton) would see the magnet on my car of the Hickory High logo, they'd ask, "Why do you have THAT on there?" and my reply would always be "That's my school!" and I meant it. Hickory High had become my new home. I was proud of my school and my students. I loved my job. I didn't love the commute, but I loved working in Hickory, you know, near Hobby Lobby & Target. If I'm going to live in Lincolnton without sufficient shopping, I might as well work in a town that I can shop in, amiright?!

I gained some close friendships at Hickory High in  my coworkers, but what I value the most is the relationships I formed with students who (I feel) really needed me and I was able to help. I know I didn't get to "save" them all. Heck, I know some of my students didn't even graduate. But don't think I wouldn't stop on the side of 127 if I saw them walking down the road to ask them why their butt isn't in school. I love my kids. I truly care about my kids. I will be in their corner, root for them, advocate for them, and do whatever I am able to see them succeed. Trust and believe that. I love working in such a diverse environment. Hickory has it all. The low of the lows, the high of the highs. (Is that a saying? If not, you get what I'm saying.) I mean that in academics, as well as in socioeconomic status. It has students who can't read on a middle school level. We have students who can get into whatever college they want. We have homeless students. We have students who live in mansions. I LOVE the diversity at Hickory High. I think because it reminds me so much of the diversity at Lincolnton High. I'm a sucker for oneness, living together, and learning from each other.

I have learned through my time at Hickory High School that I can. I can learn. I can try. I can do. I will fail. I will learn lessons. I will succeed. I also learned that home is where you make it.

My HHS baby shower in January 2016

June 14th was my last day as a Hickory High Red Tornado. It was a very sad day for me, but it helped that I was hurrying to pack up and head out because the building didn't have air conditioning, haha!! I will obviously miss it, but am excited to start a new chapter in my career, as a Fred T. Foard Tiger! I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me there. I've heard nothing but great things about the school. Hickory will obviously hold a special place in my heart, but home is where you make it. :)

*See story below :)
*Funny story: Returning from maternity leave, I needed to pump at work to continue to breastfeed KJ. Twice a day, I had to go in my office, lock the door, pump, and pretend I wasn't there. The first time I did, I must have forgotten to put a sign on my door, so my amazing pal, Frank Pait, put this sign on my door. Now that's love!! I used it every pump session for the rest of the year. :) I am going to miss the friendships and moments such as this-- just simple signs that say, "I got your back." Poor Mr. Pait, surrounded by all those women!! Haha!! 
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