Who Are You Calling a Guidance Counselor?
Kimberly Frommé helps students with college planning, academic issues and social and emotional development, but when someone asks her whether she's a guidance counselor, she politely laughs and tells them, "No. I'm the exact opposite."
Frommé, along with everyone else in her profession, is technically a school counselor.
In fact, the term "guidance counselor" has been old news in New Jersey for some time now. Most people just aren't aware.
The official title changed on the state certificate at least a decade ago, and now Frommé and her fellow counselors are part of a quiet push to make "school counselor" the new norm in New Jersey.
"I really think that 'guidance' has a negative connotation associated with it," Frommé said. "There's a lot that goes on in a school counselor role; it's a very multi-faceted role, so to say that we simply just 'guide' is very misleading."
Frommé insisted counselors are completely different today compared to how most adults may remember them from their days in school.
"It was somebody that you probably saw once a year for scheduling," she said. "They sat in their office, they kind of gave you advice and that was basically it."
But that scenario has changed immensely over time, according to Tim Conway, president of the New Jersey School Counselor Association.
"The expectation now is really a focus on the whole child," said Conway, who also serves as director of school counseling at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque. "They're looking at the academic, the college and career, and the social and emotional development of students."
And that means a lot more involvement with students on an annual basis. Frommé has 280 students on her caseload, and they have no choice but to see her at least three times per year - either one-on-one or through classroom presentations.
"I think it has become more apparent to them that they can see us for more than just what class they want to change," she said.