Campbell High School counselor Jamie Ryder’s determined cheer interrupts the half-asleep, early morning silence of a dozen ninth-graders crammed into a small classroom as she launches into a 90-minute talk about the future, with a focus on careers and college.
The challenges facing Ryder soon become clear. When she asks about her students’ goals, one hand goes up. Then a low voice in the back of the room wisecracks, “Be a drug dealer.” A while later, when the students are told to sit at computers and go through a questionnaire to help determine what courses of studies and careers would be good fits for them, several struggle with the words on the screen, English still foreign to them.
In spite of all these warning signs, Ryder’s caseload and those of her colleagues are so big that this may be the only time for at least a year that many of these students will ever see her or any other counselor. The best she can do is reach out each fall to Campbell’s 800 first-year students in groups like these, to try to give them an idea of what life might be like beyond their early teens. <Read more.>