By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications
guid·ance | ˈgī-dᵊn(t)s
Definition of guidance
1 : the act or process of guiding
2a : the direction provided by a guide
b : advice on vocational or educational problems given to students
What does a Scecina guidance counselor do?
Well, isn’t it obvious? They guide students! True, but let’s go behind the scenes to learn more.
Scecina’s Guidance Department is a full-service unit with a college and career counselor, a social worker, an academic advisor, and the director.
Kalynn Huntoon has spent her entire high school counseling career at Scecina, where she has worn different hats. She’s now the academic advisor. She checks students’ grades and works with them individually to see how she can support them to get their grades up.
“We talk about why their grade is so low, if it’s not turning in homework, then what is causing them not to get their homework in time? Sometimes it’s just a matter of them knowing that someone is checking in with them; other times it’s a motivation issue,” she said.
She doesn’t just focus on grades, though. “We also celebrate changes in percentage,” she said. “A 10% increase in a grade is huge and should be celebrated!”
In high school, students explore what they might want to do after graduation. Is it college, vocational/tech school, start a career, or the military? Senior Jordan Schluttenhofer wants to major in radiology in college and has talked to Ms. Huntoon about how to prepare.
“There are definitely classes that all students need to take, but the electives can be tricky for some,” Mrs. Huntoon said. “Sometimes it’s a matter of taking an elective because you enjoy the class or want to learn more about the subject. Other times they have a specific goal, such as a particular major they want to pursue in college, like Jordan, so they have questions about what classes would be best to help them reach their goal.”
Some students need help even thinking about the future, so Ms. Huntoon helps motivate them.
“As a freshman, thinking about graduation still seems so far away for them. I remind them that it will go quickly, it’s great when they come see me their senior year and they remind me of the conversation and agree that the years went by so fast.”
Mrs. Huntoon had grown up around higher education. She grew up in Brookston, Ind., not far from Purdue University, where several family members worked and where she received her bachelor’s degree in English. When she decided to return to college to become a school counselor, she went to Butler University, where she received her master’s degree.
Mrs. Huntoon also is qualified to help with the social and emotional issues of students.
“Some students just need to talk and know there is someone they can trust and talk about everything with helps students,” she said.
Jordan (with Mrs. Huntoon, left) met the counselor at freshman orientation, when Jordan was a shy student coming from Little Flower Catholic School. The two made an immediate connection and since that day have spent a lot of time together. Jordan, who’s been involved in Scecina cheerleading, band and several clubs, said Mrs. Huntoon helps her with personal as well as academic issues. When she was nervous about her Advanced Placement Literature test, she talked to Mrs. Huntoon, who told her to prepare as well as she could and to study hard.
“She literally says the type of things my mom would say,” said Jordan. “She’s just so happy and she’s funny. You might go into her office sad or angry, but you come out happy.”
Jordan has an Individualized Education Plan, which allows her extra time on tests. It’s Mrs. Huntoon who stays with her during that time. “She took time out of her job to do ISTEP with me every day. That’s more time that she has to stop working and literally sit in her office for four hours, every day, for me,” Jordan said.
“I love working with students to improve their grades,” Mrs. Huntoon explained. “I also love just talking with students and see how school is going. I love the small community that is Scecina. There is a reason why I drive 40 minutes every day (from Brownsburg, Ind.). The students, faculty and staff are really great here and care about everyone. Students are not just numbers here. The faculty and staff really take time to get to know what makes each student tick.”
Most students need some help or guidance at some point in their high school career, said Mrs. Huntoon. Even students who are doing well get anxiety.
“Sometimes those students put a lot of stress on themselves, so it’s a matter of dealing with the stress,” she said. “We look at what is going on. Is it tests that they struggle with or test anxiety? I have resources that help with test-taking skills and test anxiety so we usually go over those.”
No matter what the issue is, Mrs. Huntoon wants the students to know she is in their corner.
“I tell the students that I will be one of their biggest cheerleaders.”
At home in Brownsburg, Mrs. Huntoon spends time with Erik, her husband of 18 years, and her son Luke, 14.