TEMPLE, Texas — The first week of February in the United States is National School Counseling week, which highlights counselors' unique contribution to students and their success.
Courtney Macal has been a counselor at Western Hills Elementary in Temple for seven years. She said the job has always come with its struggles but the pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges.
"It's definitely a balancing act," Macal said.
Some of the big things Macal mentioned that has affected students the most are social interactions and human connection.
"Everyone thought that it might be a couple of weeks and then it's like ok a couple of weeks have gone by and now we're still here, so it was just learning very quickly that we couldn't plan too far ahead. It was just a day to day. What do we need to do today and how can we support these families today," Macal said.
At Temple ISD, counselors have been using zones of regulation even pre-pandemic. They teach students about different emotions and give them the tools for how to address and handle them.
"Developmental years are crucial and that's why the social emotional programs are so important even before the pandemic," Macal said.
School counselors had to be flexible and adapt, which Macal said is a strength that educators already have. She had to take things day by day and be there not only for her students and their families, but herself and her family.
"I kind of felt like I was juggling at first and just trying to make sure I gave all of myself to every area," Macal said.
Even with the unusual obstacles, school counselors and educators have faced since 2020, Macal said she wouldn't trade her job for the world.
"I've always known that my heart is in the place of helping others and caring for others and providing support for others and this has definitely shown me that I chose the right field and the right career path," Macal said.