Following in the footsteps of my first-grade teacher, I began my career as a Kindergarten teacher in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Becoming a teacher was a feat in and of itself considering that in High School, the Guidance Counselor advised me not to go to college. With an undiagnosed reading/processing disability, along with family and personal issues, my grades were average and options were limited. Deep down, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, and I chose to believe I would be good at it. One day I mustered up the courage and walked into the Guidance Office and handed one college application to my Counselor. I’ll never forget how she responded: while rolling her eyes, she loudly and smugly said: “you know you are NEVER going to get in!”. “Can you please send it anyway?” I remember asking. With a deep angry sigh, the Counselor snatched the application out of my hand and slammed it down on her desk. I remember standing there frozen; feeling pretty worthless. That was one of my lowest days.
After waiting for what seemed like years, a large thick envelope arrived from Kean College of New Jersey (thick was good). I was accepted; the kid who was told not to even bother! From that day on, I promised myself I would graduate and show that Counselor my diploma.
With nothing but hard work and sheer determination, I graduated with Honors in 1989. A Master’s Degree followed in 1993, and I decided my new life path would be as a School Counselor. I maintained that role for almost twenty years. Now, I own my own private mental health practice, wrote a book, and I give lectures and seminars. Pretty cool huh? What we believe, we achieve!
As a side note, I did not tell my mother about the Guidance Counselor incident until many years later and I never returned to my High School. One day, I got a call from mom. She had just returned from the school after hearing my sister give an alumni speech. I’ll never forget what she said: “Sue, I just want to let you know I went down to that Guidance Office to speak to that Guidance Counselor!” (yes, the same Counselor was still there after twenty plus years and mom remembered her name!) Mom continued….” yeh, I went down there, but she was out to lunch. But let me tell you……I was going to tell her how great you are and how well you have done for yourself. I just wanted to let you know that!”
To my mother, Victoria…….”dziekuje ci matka, kocham cie”
“Thank you mom, I love you”