Preschoolers To Highschoolers: The Moments That Last

Finding myself as a high school employee was never part of my plan. Life has led me through work in various childcare roles and almost earning a licensure for teaching elementary aged students. This shift doesn’t seem like a big deal, still ending up in an education setting and all, but I had initial worries and curiosity. Despite this, I've discovered that both caring for young children and advising teenagers about college processes share a unique connection.

Those with similar occupations understand the emotions involved and can acknowledge the challenging days. Advising students is a demanding task, but the hard times are not what stick in my memory. Not as much as the good ones do. They hold more weight, at least. Because I do not remember any sort of distress starting in my role at Smoky Mountain High School. Instead, on the initial day back from summer break for students I recall to my surprise: a senior already in my office during first period! Assisting her with an application to Western Carolina University and getting to know her highlighted that week and eliminated any worry of how this new position would go.

What will stick is students sharing their amazing essays with me. Their vulnerability and writing alike are seriously admirable. Not to mention the ones who share their news of college acceptances. No matter the form they do this in, it is always memorable. Whether they show me the actual letter, leave a sticky note with the news, or let me know in the hallways, each instance leaves me with a dropped jaw and genuine happiness for them. My reaction is not surprise at their acceptance, but a testament to the meaning it holds for them. 

Another piece that will stick with me is sharing the same room as first generation students submitting their very first college application. I will look back fondly on witnessing one’s attempt to act like it doesn’t matter, only for a small smile to betray their performance because they know deep down that it does. And on another occasion, how pride is evident in the student’s suppressed smile while both their mother and I break out in cheers after the submission button has been pressed.

This role as an adviser has allowed me to draw from my personal experiences to encourage students towards their many possibilities. I will never forget engaging in discussions about the options that community college holds or getting to connect with students and teachers about financial feasibility. 

This is all very different from what used to be days of bandaging scrapes on knees and guiding behaviors and structuring learning with play. Nonetheless, we remember our students, and it is for a reason. To all kids I have ever worked with, you and your successes are the heart of what truly matters. Thank you for these kinds of moments that take up my mind. It is a joy to know that there are many more to come. 

Written by Bridget Oberg, adviser at Smoky Mountain High School. 

(Pictured below: Bridget's previous preschool classroom and her current office)

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Bridget Oberg, adviser Smoky Mountain High School
Published: Jan 26, 2024 9:20am