Coming from a variety of counseling jobs, including serving as a director of school counseling in Prince William County, Shuntina Taylor is now a new counselor at CHS. Taylor’s goal as a counselor is to provide expert help to students in finding careers and colleges.
What’s your job as a counselor and how do you help students succeed?
As a counselor, I work with students to ensure that they are set up for success, not only in school, but also post-graduation. I always keep in mind how I wanted to be treated and spoken to about things when I was in school, and that’s how I am as a counselor today. I like to have honest conversations, even if it’s not what a student wants to hear. I like to give students choices and make sure they’re well informed because that helps students navigate difficult situations. Overall, I think I help students succeed by being truthful and helping them see the big picture.
What made you want to become a counselor?
I had great counselors when I was in Oakton High School. They were so supportive of me, and they took the time to listen to me without judgement. Even when I was having an awful day, I knew I could go see my counselor and she would have my back. I wanted to be that for students.
Is there someone you look up to as a counselor and how have they affected your work?
When I first got into school counseling, I was very fortunate to have a village of people as mentors. My grad school professor at Virginia Tech, not only gave me the resources to be successful, but she also gave me several opportunities to build my resume. At the first school I worked at, the Director of School Counseling took me under her wings and guided me through the tough conversations with students and parents. In Prince William County, where I used to work, the Supervisor of Secondary Counseling gave me opportunities to present at the district level and encouraged me to continue to develop in the field.So I don’t really have just one person, but several people that have inspired me and helped mold me into the counselor that I am today.
How do you help students find careers and colleges?
I love college and career exploration. When it comes to careers, I like career surveys and matching careers with one’s personality. With students, I push them to dig deeper about the type of career they want. If someone wants to be a doctor, I want to know which type. I like for students to explore the salary for their chosen career, as well as job outlook, because [some] jobs do go away. From there, we can start looking at colleges and deciding on the best fit. Naviant and College Board are great resources for this. One thing I encourage students to do is look at the schools with the best program for their intended major. Big name schools are nice overall, but it doesn’t mean they have the best program for you.
Where did you work before your job at CHS and how has it helped you as a counselor?
Before coming to CHS, I was the lead counselor at a year-round, multi-track middle school in North Carolina. Both positions were in leadership and allowed me to share my knowledge and expertise with other counselors. Being in those positions, I worked closely with the various department chairs and gained a unique understanding of the needs of the other departments. By understanding their needs, I was better equipped to work with students that may have had issues with a particular teacher, curriculum or simply transitioning to the next grade level.
How is CHS different from other schools you’ve worked at?
CHS is my first high school. I’ve only worked at middle schools before. It’s double the number of students, but my caseload is the lowest it’s ever been. In middle school, counselors were responsible for caseloads of more than 400 students. It’s nice having a much bigger team. Although CHS is bigger, it’s a lot more manageable.
What’s your favorite part about CHS?
Besides the school color being purple, my favorite color, everyone here is so friendly. The vibe is very welcoming and that’s great for anyone starting a new job or a new school. Chantilly is community oriented and really values the students. I like it here.