FHC’s counseling office not only works to prepare students for their futures, but to support them every step of the way


Lydia VanDeRiet

A picture of our beautiful counseling office here at FHC

Before learning just how long psychologists have to go to school, counselor Jodi Arsulowicz thought that’s what she wanted to be when she grew up. After deciding against a career as a psychologist, Arsulowicz decided being a teacher spoke to her instead.

After her move from Wyoming, Arsulowicz taught Spanish and math at Forest Hills Northern, where she was encouraged by the former principal to get her Master’s, and that’s where her transition from teacher to counselor began.

“Most teachers do extra work, and they get a Master’s beyond their bachelor’s and extra credentialing,” Arsulowicz said. “[My old principal] said, ‘You know, this is what I see [you doing].’ That was the perfect segue for me to be able to still do the work that I loved in education but also pursue that mental health support piece.”

Not only is the counseling department responsible for mental health support, but they are also in charge of the social and emotional support that students may need on top of preparing students for their futures. 

“Whether it be within the classroom or outside of the classroom, social situations, family situations—we respond to that and try to be a support,” Arsulowicz said. “Those are called responsive services; we respond to those needs kind of as they come up. So sometimes what you think your day is going to be like, based on the calendar and the to-do list, gets shifted.”

Another part of the counseling office is registering new students and a variety of other things that are overseen by Registrar Keyla Acevedo-Hargis.

“I work very closely with the counseling department every day,” Acevedo-Hargis said. “We communicate constantly, since the state changes many procedures each year, and we talk through these changes to adapt them into our school community. We debrief a lot about things we learn almost daily so that we are on the same page.”

Acevedo-Hargis is in charge of things like making sure students have complete schedules, handling the “Count Day” data, collecting and entering course request forms, enrolling new students, and helping the counselors create the master schedule for the students the following year.

“I really enjoy the people I work with, from the counseling/office staff, to the teachers and students,” Acevedo-Hargis said. “I also enjoy putting together the master schedule. It’s a giant puzzle with many different pieces, but once we get it together, it’s very satisfying.”

And while there is no such thing as a “typical day” in the counseling office, Counseling Office Secretary Monica Noonan can attest to the fact that specific parts of the year have their own tasks that need to be performed. 

“This year, as you know, is anything but typical,” Noonan said. “The days can really vary depending on the time of year. For me, that can be assisting the counselors in preparing for classroom lessons, arranging college rep visits, Kent County Tech Center visits, enrollments, and promoting different events and opportunities available to our students.”

I also enjoy putting together the master schedule. It’s a giant puzzle with many different pieces, but once we get it together, it’s very satisfying.”

— Keyla Acevedo-Hargis

Arsulowicz also agrees that the different seasons vary in busyness. For example, spring gets busy with things like college applications and scheduling for next year. 

“Our work tends to be cyclical,” Arsulowicz said. “In the fall, it’s pretty heavy. And then we’re busy with counselors and with seniors in college applications. And then we shift and we do other scheduling and there’s EDP work. So there’s all the things that go into the academic side of making sure you get your diploma on time and take the right courses and think about what you’re doing after high school.”

Even though the workload for the department seems stressful and overwhelming—seeing as they tend to 350 to 375 students each—the team here at FHC handles it with grace. They’re a very tight knit group of people who, at the end of the day, are working together to help the students here at school.

“Here in counseling, the priorities can shift quickly,” Noonan said. “That can be hard, but is also what I enjoy about my job, as well as working with such a fun and talented team.”