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Cambridge City Schools News Article

Intern Helps School Counselors While Gaining Experience

Most educators will agree the demand for additional services to help students is increasing while resources to fund those service remain stagnant. One way to defeat this dilemma is to find quality interns to help provide those services.

Cambridge High School was fortunate this school year and part of last school year to bring on intern Cassie Harper as a school counselor.
Harper, a former student of CHS principal Jason Bunting when he worked at Maysville High School, needs to complete 700 hours of counseling to earn her master’s degree in school counseling from Ohio University. Cambridge High’s student support team needed help meeting the needs of the Bobcat students.

The fit was good as Harper now spends her workdays interacting with Cambridge students.

“Jason Bunting, the principal here, was my old principal from Maysville,” Harper pointed out. “He is colleagues with my mom, (Larissa Harper is a long-time educator who was recently named the new provost/Chief Academic Officer at Zane State College). I was telling my mom about my frustrations finding a school for an internship. She reached out to Mr. Bunting to see if he was willing to let me into the building to complete my internship, he said ‘of course,’ and I have been here ever since.”

Bunting saw the situation as a win-win.

“She needed a placement and was having a hard time because of COVID,” Bunting said. “We haven’t stopped allowing college kids from coming into the school. That is one way we give back to the colleges by helping college students gain experience. It brings people to our school that can help us out and mentor our students but also gives us an opportunity to see if this is someone we may want to hire in the future.”

When she first came on board at the High School, Harper did a lot of shadowing, observing, and getting to know the students. But it wasn’t long until she was working on her own and involved in the day-to-day duties of a school counselor.

“I go into classes and give lessons on different topics, and I spend a lot of time in individual counselling with students,” Harper said. “I have appointments, walk ins, and also lead some small groups.”

Last year, she worked under the mentorship of school counselor Rod Gray and this year is working with School Counselor Trudy Tuttle. She also gets to interact with Career Navigator Lovel Quinn and School Support Liaison Casey McVicker.

“This is a unique space, because we have Lovel, a career navigator that most schools do not have,” Harper said. “We also have Casey, the student support liaison who works kind of as a social worker and puts a lot of the community resources into place.“

Because of the unique staffing situation at CHS, Harper is getting to spend a good bit of time talking and working with students.
“In a school community, everyone chips in with those other duties as assigned,” Harper said. “That is a big variety of things, but I have been able to work with kids and get a lot of direct contact.”

Harper is also learning what it is like to work in a professional environment.

“The biggest thing I am learning from the Student Support Team is the importance of collaboration,” Harper said. “Communication is key. We make the effort to meet every week and talk about certain kids we are working with and any program ideas we want to implement. There is a great deal collaboration working in a professional environment. I have had many jobs, but nothing this professional.“

Harper also praised the Student Support Team for making her feel welcome.

“They have been so supportive,” Harper said. “They brought me in and made me part of the team. I don’t feel like an intern; I just feel like another member of the team. They value my opinion, and they have really let me take control and be involved.”

Bunting sees all the advantages to having Harper at the school, but especially likes what she has to offer to the students.

“She is quality person to get into our school and assist our counsellors,” Bunting said. “It is great having another person in the building who can assist our students, and it is a plus having someone a little closer to the age of our students who is in college that can give students someone else to ask those college type questions. Someone they are more likely to believe because she is closer to their age."

Harper is in the Counselor Education Program in the Patton School of Education at Ohio University. She chose the school counselling curriculum over the clinical mental health and clinical rehabilitation programs because it was a better fit.

“I applied to the clinical tract and did that for a semester, but when I actually got into grad school and got more information, it became clear that school counselling was a better fit for me and my personality,” Harper said. “Now that I am here doing an internship, I think it is a good fit.”

Harper will easily complete her requirements by February but is committed to staying on at Cambridge through the school year to gain additional experience.

“I have a relationship with the students and the staff, and I would not want to abruptly leave,” Harper said.

Her short-term goals are to pass her licensure exam and find a job. Long term goals include continuing her education and potentially pursing a career as a school psychologist and eventually teach at a university.

Working at Cambridge Schools is also something Harper would think about if a position would open.

“It is definitely something I would consider, especially since I already have relationships established,” Harper said. “It would be silly of me not to consider it. I love it here. I love the kids. I love this school.”

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