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Middle School Counselor: To My Students, With Love

As my students move on to high school, I won't forget our time together, who they are or what I have learned from each of them.
by Michelle Sutherlin Modified: May 22, 2014 at 9:20 am •  Published: May 22, 2014
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I have had the pleasure of following the same students throughout middle school for the last three years. The district in which I work has middle level counselors and principals rotate through the grades 6, 7 and 8 with one specific class of students.

There are a thousand benefits to this, and maybe the most beneficial is for the students to have an adult in the building who knows them and knows their family. I know every student in my class at this point (all 200-plus of them), and many of them well. This helps in multiple ways with teachers, with their families and with the students.

The only negative about following my kids for the last three years is now they are eighth graders and are heading to high school. So the children I knew three years ago as they entered middle school are now young adults about to have some of the best years of their lives.

I am thrilled for them. And I am brokenhearted for myself.

I wish I could write them each a letter telling them how excited I am for their future and how much I have loved spending these years with them. But I came to the conclusion that I couldn't write 225 letters. One would have to do.

So, here is my love letter to my students:

To My Amazing Student,

I have absolutely loved spending the last three years as your counselor. I have watched you develop from a scared, brand new sixth grader to a capable, interesting young adult ready to tackle high school.

I know the last three years haven't always been a picnic for you. I still remember middle school being the hardest three years of my life. (That's why I am a middle school counselor, after all.) There have been highs and lows, and you have included me in your moments, and I am grateful.

Do you remember when I helped you with your schedule? You REALLY didn't want THAT class or you desperately wanted in another one. Maybe it was because you wanted to be in class with your friends or because the class was too difficult. I always listened to you, even if I couldn't change your schedule. Thanks for telling me what was important to you.

Do you remember when you needed help with your school work? It was a tough assignment and you were a little embarrassed to ask for help. But you did. You asked me. And even though I didn't always know the answers, I loved that you asked me to help you. We both learned that two heads were better than one and we got through it. Together. Thank you for believing that I could help you.

Do you remember that time you came to me in tears about your broken heart? I hugged you and comforted you and dried your tears on my shoulder. My heart ached for your hurt, and I did my best to help you feel better. Thank you for trusting me with your sadness and letting me do my best to comfort you.

Do you remember the time you didn't feel well and asked me to see if your forehead was warm? Or that time you had a sore ankle or a sore throat and asked me if I thought you would be OK? I loved that you asked me to check on you. It made me feel a little bit like your school mom. I hope I helped put your mind at ease because I knew you would be OK.

Do you remember that ridiculous argument you got in with your friends about ... what was it again? I can't even remember anymore. But you didn't like fighting, so you came to me and I helped you through it. I tried my best to show you how to resolve your conflicts by working through them, not by duking it out or unfriending someone. Confrontation is uncomfortable and I appreciate you letting me guide you through it. It was awesome to watch you grow.

Do you remember that time you made a really terrible decision and had to pay the price? It hurt to watch you suffer the consequences of your choice, so I tried to soften the blow by talking to you about it. We discussed what you could have done different or what you could do to set things right. It brought me joy to watch you come to the realization that even though you messed up, you could learn from the experience.

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by Michelle Sutherlin
NewsOK Contributor
Michelle Sutherlin is a middle school counselor in Norman, OK, who works with students ages 11-15 daily. She is also a mom to two boys, Ryan (12) and Will (9). She and her husband have been married for 16 years. She loves middle school students so...
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