Good Talk: Mr. Smith

Meet NASH's new school counselor!

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Good Talk: Mr. Smith

photo by Cassidy Kufner

photo by Cassidy Kufner

photo by Cassidy Kufner

Cassidy Kufner, Reporter

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Has working at North Allegheny differed from other school districts?

Last year, I was at a very small private high school.  The year before that I was at Mt. Lebanon High School, which is a bit more of a similar environment. What’s different here from most schools I’ve been at is that the parents really care, and the teachers, administration, and the students really care. I like being in an environment that supports students’ success to a higher degree than is capable at a lot of different high schools.

So far, what struggles have you encountered?

I think the big struggle is really getting to know all of my students on a personal basis. It’s a very big school, so that’s something I’ve tried to figure out. I don’t quite know everyone yet, so that’s a big struggle for me, trying to make sure I’m able to form positive relationships with all of my students.

What is your favorite part about your job?

There’s a lot of things I really like, but working with the kids is probably the number one thing. There are a lot of administrative things that go along with my job, but my favorite part of my job is actually getting to sit down with students and helping them out with personal or social problems,  or just walking them through the college application process.

Did you always want to be a school counselor?

I didn’t really see this as a career path for me until after I graduated from college. I graduated from a smaller private high school with a college-going culture. I moved on to go to college because everyone else was, but I didn’t know what I wanted to be after college. I eventually declared psychology as my major junior year. The spring of my senior year, I found a job working at Western Psych as a case manager for adults. I did that for about a year, but it just wasn’t for me. By chance, I ran into a school counselor I had in elementary school and she suggested I think about school counseling.

If you weren’t a school counselor, what job would you have?

I would possibly be a special education teacher. I think I would want to do something within the educational realm, or going back to one of my original interests, maybe an author or novelist. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I’m very good with grammar and articulating myself.

What do you find yourself enjoying in free time?

I spend a lot of time with my two-year-old son — that is the number one most important activity for me. I absolutely love spending time with him, as much as I possibly can. Aside from that, I play basketball whenever I have a chance — it’s always been a favorite of mine. Otherwise, my wife and I are watching movies and shows.

Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed during college admissions season?

Absolutely, I did this year very much so. I had about 35 graduating seniors at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, but this year at NASH I have about about 150. I might have written 15-20 recommendation letters last year — so far this year I’m at around 60. I’ve definitely felt a bit of pressure getting all of that done.

What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding the value of a college education?

Anymore, a bachelor’s degree is almost akin to a high school diploma in many ways. Some degrees are more worthwhile than others, and in the coming years we are going to be experiencing a shortage of skilled workers. There used to be a perception if you couldn’t cut it in a college environment, then you should look at the trades. I don’t think that should be the perspective anymore. I still do see the value of higher education, but I think there should be more concentrated efforts to shed light on skilled degrees that are becoming more in demand and are a bit cheaper to obtain.

What’s your favorite time of the year?

I really like when the weather gets a little colder, and I like the fall season. Not super-cold, but hoodie weather, the back-to-school vibe going on, getting back into the swing of things. The fall holidays are awesome, too, Halloween and Thanksgiving.