Among other fresh faces here at Dunellen High School, Lisa Leibowitz has recently joined the school’s staff committee during the 2015-16 school year, and has returned this year to provide guidance for students in need. She has assumed the position of Student Assistance Counselor, or S.A.C. for short. Her role here is to provide students who are having personal struggles with consolation and perspective.
Ms. Leibowitz had previously gathered fifteen years of experience at the time of her addition to DHS in September 2015. Following college, Leibowitz secured a position in an alternative school for kids who were expelled from their high schools and were in need of an education. This was a golden opportunity for her, as it exposed her to adolescents struggling with crises at home, in relationships, and in school. Many of these students were in dire need of someone they could talk through it with, or someone that could provide a new perspective.
Leibowitz quickly formed a passion for this type of work, and returned to school to earn a master’s degree in counseling.This unique experience also shaped the particular specialty within her major, known as ‘crisis counseling’.
Counseling was not always Ms. Leibowitz’s desired field of study, though. She held a keen interest in sports, particularly basketball and volleyball, throughout her high school and college career. The career in counseling that she ultimately fell into originated from a small interest in psyche. According to Leibowitz, it was “just a really cool thing to study.” Basketball and volleyball still hold a prominent role in her life, though only as hobbies.
Leibowitz has encountered numerous schools of varying sizes and degrees across the span of her career. As it turns out, the smaller end of these schools have proven to be the most opportune. She stated, “I see it as an asset because it’s less likely for kids to fall through the cracks.” She enjoys the close intimacy that exists between students and teachers as a result of a small population and tight-knit class schedules. It is near impossible for a singular student to be overlooked or disregarded by peers and teachers. “You don’t just feel like you’re a number in a small school,” quoted Leibowitz.
The job of a S.A.C. may involve working alongside teachers, but multiple factors set it apart from the average classroom educator. “I couldn’t see myself being a teacher because I couldn’t imagine teaching the same subject every day,” Leibowitz stated. Each day brings new students, with new difficulties, and new challenges for her to overcome. While this does pose a challenge to Leibowitz, it is also the reason she is enthusiastic about her work. “I never know what each day is going to hold. It keeps me guessing.”
Aside from her orthodox counseling obligations, Ms. Leibowitz manages a small club in the middle-school. She describes it as a “grassroots project” called “Project: BFF”. The organization of girls engage in group-oriented activities to form healthier friendships and prepare for the adversity of adolescence. Leibowitz educates the girls on how to effectively maintain and reform friendships, as well as how to break up properly.
Leibowitz has found a consolidated and connected environment to be the most prosperous for student assistance counseling, and has high hopes for her future in Dunellen High School.