As an integral part of a school’s student support system, guidance counselors seek to create a successful academic environment for their assigned students. While a teacher may want a student to learn their specific subject in depth, guidance counselors have a more holistic goal. These individuals strive to help students to be the most successful version of themselves in order to realize their full potential.
This year, both M-A’s student and staff populations have grown. To meet the needs of almost 2,300 students, M-A has hired two new guidance counselors, Tram Dang and Megan Corazza.
Corazza has always liked working with people and has “naturally felt interested working with students and adolescents.” Following graduate school, she worked as a counselor at a middle school in Virginia. Later, her job counseling high school students in San Diego allowed her to compare working with different ages and developmental stages. “Over my career–this is my 11th year as a counselor– I’ve really found a soft spot for you high school students.” Corazza expresses her excitement to specifically help seniors in planning post-high school opportunities. She also enjoys talking with students who may have trouble adjusting to the often strict standards of high school and working through realistic plans for their futures.
Just prior to the start of her job at M-A, Corazza lived in Madrid, Spain for four years with her husband and her 18-month-old daughter. There she counseled students from 27 different nations at the American School of Madrid. In Spain, Corazza and her family enjoyed easy access to various historical monuments and locations. Upon notice of an open guidance counselor position at M-A, she flew all the way to Menlo Park for her interview and left the Bay Area a mere 36 hours after her arrival.
From her past experiences in San Diego and graduate school, Corazza had developed an affection for California. She appreciates the diverse and plentiful opportunities M-A has to offer, aspects her students in Madrid were not able to enjoy.
Having returned from Spain, Corazza talks of her experience with “reverse cultural shock. Although you are American, you have had this different experience and everything looks different to you.” She highlights how the romantic and traditional culture of Madrid juxtaposes aspects of mainstream American culture. Despite the transition period, Corazza is elated to become part of the M-A community, meet the families of the students, and “to see kids do all of the fun things that they like to do here.” She believes it has greatly benefited her as a professional to work in different cultures.
Tram Dang, another addition to the guidance staff, has spent a significant portion of her professional career as a high school teacher. Dang taught mathematics at a variety of schools in LA. At one of these schools, each teacher was assigned an advisory group to counsel throughout high school. Dang “really liked the aspect of keeping track of [students’] grades, advising them, keeping the communication open, and talking to them and getting to know them outside of the classroom setting.” These experiences helped Dang discover her love for counseling and ultimately altered her career path.
Dang has also found a love for high school students in general as she feels that she can express her sense of humor with them “and at the same time can mentor and guide them.” Dang has had a smooth transition from southern California to the Bay Area, finding only slight cultural differences. Dang finds M-A, with its diverse population, a good fit. She enjoys working with a wide range of students from those who are highly accelerated to those in need of support. Dang is excited to learn how different processes work at M-A and how she can contribute to them.
M-A’s faculty continues to grow with its student body, welcoming new staff members whose experiences contribute to M-A’s depth as a diverse high school.