“I’m back to being a Ranger,” said Jodi Arsulowicz, FHC’s newest counselor.
To most, Arsulowicz is a new face around the building; however, she is an FH veteran. After an eleven-year hiatus from FHC, Arsulowicz has made her way back to the land of the Rangers as the new addition to the counselor’s office, replacing Mrs. Miller. Her return to FHC has been going well, but Arsulowicz feels she is quite different than who she was when she first worked here.
“I’m different than I was before,” Arsulowicz said. “I don’t know that [working here] is different. People have asked me that, and I think it’s a little too early for me to judge. A lot of things feel the same, but who I am now is very different than who I was eleven years ago.”
However, Arsulowicz does feel these past experiences have helped make her transition to FHC smooth.
“[Working here before] definitely helped, although I must say I forgot where certain classrooms were and all that other kind of stuff,” Arsulowicz said. “But yes, [working here before] did help with the transition. Because there’s a lot of staff members that I do remember.”
And FHC’s gracious staff has certainly helped Arsulowicz settle into the new position.
“The staff has been really supportive of those of us who have come in new,” Arsulowicz said. “They’re very welcoming, so that’s a good thing.”
Furthermore, Arsulowicz has years of experience backing her up, allowing her to adapt easily and fit in well here.
“I think my longevity- my history in the district- gives me some perspective on the families that we’re serving and the students that we’re servicing,” Arsulowicz said. “I think knowing what the Forest Hills culture and environment are like, what programs we can offer, and having done it for so long is a benefit in this building as well as in other buildings.”
At the very beginning of her career, Arsulowicz taught math and Spanish at FHN. She believes her time as a teacher continues to help her be a better, more understanding counselor.
“[Teaching] at least gave me a little understanding of what happens in the context of a classroom and how hard it can be when you have 30 different sets of needs and everything else,” Arsulowicz said.
Arsulowicz also feels her experiences as a mother of three have given her a greater empathy for the students and families she works with.
“[Being a mom] brought me further understanding that every student and every person has their own story and their own needs and that everybody needs someone to listen to that story,” Arsulowicz said. “… In my own family with my own kids, as we’ve worked through different issues with them, just having a different empathy for what the families are experiencing and helping the families know how to help the student as well [has been helpful].”
This empathetic nature has certainly been noticed by others.
“Mrs. Arsulowicz has such a great attitude,” said main office secretary Tasha Kaminski. “She always has a smile on her face and is very compassionate.”
But above all, Arsulowicz considers her many years working as a counselor to be the experience she draws the most from. Following her short stint as a teacher, Arsulowicz worked as a counselor at FHC for four years and was a counselor at FHE for the last nine years.
“I think my time as a counselor- the one-on-one time I’ve gotten with students- has probably made me the strongest in terms of being [a counselor],” Arsulowicz said.
With all that experience, it’s no wonder that Arsulowicz has been settling into her new role just fine.
“Mrs. Arsulowicz has adjusted very well to her new role at FHC,” said principal Steve Passinault. “Any time there is a move to a new building, there are adjustments that have to be made. But she is very professional and has made it a smooth transition. It helps that she started her career in FHC, so she knows a lot of the staff here.”
However, there have been some obstacles that have come with the new job.
“The difficulty is that I don’t know any of my students or families, so I feel like I meet new people every day,” Arsulowicz said. “Our job is so much about relationship-building; that’s the difficult part: connecting with, meeting with, and starting all those new relationships. The actual work is the same as what I was doing before, but all the people that are involved are different.”
As Arsulowicz gets to know her new students, she understands how difficult it is for some of her students to adjust to the abrupt change.
“It’s hard for them because they didn’t have any transition time either,” Arsulowicz said. “Freshmen and sophomore are kind of okay because they might not have even met Mrs. Miller. It’s harder for the juniors and seniors, especially those that feel like she knew them.”
Nonetheless, Arsulowicz has been having good experiences with her new students.
“There might be some apprehension, but once I sit down with them, it usually goes just fine,” Arsulowicz said. “So the students have been great.
Head secretary of counseling Mary Stout also noticed students’ initial nerves but has since seen only positive responses from students.
“Some students and parents were nervous about giving up Mrs. Miller,” Stout said, “but now that they have been able to meet with Mrs. A, they feel comfortable and confident that they are in good hands.”
Passinault too made similar observations.
“I have heard very positive comments from students who have worked with Mrs. A,” Passinault said. “She has jumped right in with students of all grade levels, whether they were working on college apps or just needing some advice on navigating through the world of an FHC student.”
Arsulowicz’s positive interactions with students are expected, as that aspect of the job is her favorite.
“My favorite part about the job for sure is just working one-on-one with a student and meeting them where they are,” Arsulowicz said. “The satisfaction of being able to take the time to do that is a gift that I know teachers don’t always have the luxury of having because of all the students that they have.”
As Arsulowicz makes her way through this year, her priorities are surviving this new year and continuing to forge strong relationships.
“I hope to get through each montha��. There’s a learning curve to everything,” Arsulowicz said.
“So I want to survive and form good connections with those people I actually have the time to connect with.”