10 May

The Power of Education by Christina June

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), we at Blink want to thank each person who works in the education profession. We know the work you do isn’t always easy; however, the impact you have can be life-changing.

In an effort to honor those who have shaped and molded us, each day this week will feature a special blog post from a Blink author about a teacher—or teachers—who had a profound impact in their life.

To all those working in the education field—thank you for believing in us when we didn’t know how to believe in ourselves. We value and admire the work that you do!

The Power of Education by Christina June

I have always been a helper. I have also always been a storyteller. It makes a lot of sense to me that my two chosen careers involve both of these skillsets.

In my day job, I’m a high school counselor.  I have the pleasure of helping my students choose classes, navigate struggles with teachers, family friends, and assist them on their journey to the next step after graduation.

In my “any other time I have free” job, I’m an author.  I have the pleasure of helping my characters figure out their interests, navigate struggles with teachers, family and friends, and push them along on their journey to whatever comes next, be it the next day or the next year or beyond.

They’re kind of the same job, right?  I’m incredibly lucky that I get to have not one, but two, fulfilling careers.

I went to graduate school to become a community counselor.  These are the people who work in community services agencies, in private practice, in correctional facilities, etc.  They don’t get paid much, the hours aren’t awesome, and they often meet with clients who resist their help.  It’s a thankless, but very rewarding, job.

My internships were in substance abuse counseling and family counseling.  I studied family systems theory and was able to implement it in my work with clients in so many ways.  Stand out experiences were teaching a grandmother how to set boundaries with her grandkids, modeling effective communication for a homophobic mother so she could rebuild her relationship with her gay teen, and assisting parents in writing contracts with their addicted children so they could reenter the home after rehab.  With the help of so many wonderful professors, notably Dr. Judy Stone and Dr. Teri Ancellotti, I pushed myself out of my personal comfort zone so I could be better prepared to help those who needed me.

I realized quickly that a school counselor could work more effectively with their students and families if they were trained in family systems, so I pursued that route. Fifteen years later, I’m still using that experience and knowledge on a daily basis.  My job is to listen, to guide, to commiserate, to celebrate, to advocate, to model, and to educate.  I work closely not only with my students, but also with their parents and teachers to work as a team to support their kids.  Though I’m not a classroom teacher, my role is to lift up my fellow educators, and share knowledge and perspective with students and parents.

Another thing I do a lot as a school counselor is write.  I write emails.  I respond to emails.  I write newsletter-style articles.  I write and edit presentations.  I edit essays.  And I write tens of thousands of words annually in college recommendation letters.

One year, I was feeling itchy to be creative, so I decided to write more and try my hand at a novel in my free time.  Almost eight years later and many manuscripts down, I could not be prouder to be a published author writing novels that, from my vantage point, so the same kind of good I do in my work as a school counselor.

As an educator, I do my best to listen and help my student feel seen.

As an author, I do my best to observe the world around me and use that information to create characters that will make teen readers feel seen.

In my May 2019 release, NO PLACE LIKE HERE, I dedicated the book “to the quiet girls.”  It was inspired by a lot of the conversations I’ve had with students who struggle to speak up for themselves.  My hope is they’ll see the power they truly have and find hope in Ashlyn’s story.  It’s a gift to be able to transform a real situation into a piece of fiction that has the potential to make someone examine the truths in their own life.

I am grateful to be an educator—both at school and on the page.