When I started to work in the San Antonio School District, I was assigned to Brackenridge High School to counsel the freshmen and sophomore classes. Also I was supposed to have group sessions with the 5th graders at the elementary schools that feed the middle schools in the east side of San Antonio. Later I was assigned to JT Brackenridge to work with the parents and create a parent group which would help the principal and the school.
In 1998 I was scheduled to be assigned to Smith Elementary School and on the day I was supposed to report to Smith, I got a call from Peggy Starck, the principal of Lanier High School. She said that I will be reporting to Lanier instead. This was a staff work day to introduce the new teachers and counselors/ social worker, who were new to Lanier.
Half way during the sessions, I was called out because one of the teachers who was not attending the session was contemplating suicide. I and one of the school police assigned to the school had to leave and go to his house to talk him out of it. We spent hours just talking and finally we convinced him not to hurt himself. The next school day, he came in like nothing happened. I asked myself, am I that good?
That first year, I met Abraham Rodriguez, who had been there for a while. I remember Abe when we were students at Lanier. I had an office all to myself next to the clinic and security. This was fortunate because I would do a lot of business with the school nurse and the police. If it wasn’t drug abuse it would be school fights. I would be asked to mediate between the fighters, counsel the addicts, meet with the parents and refer them to resources. The hardest part was trying to get a student out of class for counseling. On the other hand, some teachers welcome me to get a trouble maker or those student who wouldn’t cooperate in the class. I was constantly being asked by certain teachers to make presentations on different life topics.
The counselors had their share of counseling students about their classes, whether they’re failing or need to get scholarship information. I was brought in to make home visits to counsel parents about student attendance, drop outs and consequences of their action. I went to court every week to testify for them and sometimes against them.
I was made part of the administrative staff which meant that I was on lunch duty. I didn’t complain because my contract stated “and any other duties assigned by the principal”. I had to also watch the students after school to make sure they all left the campus. This was always a problem because a lot of the students didn’t want to leave the school. This was the only time they could meet with their friends before they went home. I empathize with them because I remember how I felt when I was in school. The difference was that we were fenced in then, and today, it’s an open school.
I stayed at Lanier for seven years. During that time we had a change of principals after Ms. Starck left for another position in the district. The vice principals of which we had three were always calling on me to help with Special Ed students. Specifically when the parents didn’t want their child to be “evaluated” for special Ed programs. So, I did have a special relationship with all of them. One of them who came back as principal after he earned his doctorate.
The new principal, Mr. Del Toro, changed a few things. He put the v-principals upstairs instead of near the main office so they could be closer to the students in their grade level. I was left in my office along with school police and the nurse.
In my last school year, 2003-2004 I started having problems with my arthritic knees and I couldn’t move fast enough and it hurt going up and down the second floor steps. So, that year I told them that I was planning to retire in June 2004. It had been a wonderful and memorable opportunity to return to my alma mater to work with the students. Each year at graduation I was able to march in the Municipal Auditorium wearing my vestments and colors of my profession and watch the students that I had helped in some way to graduate. I am very proud of my time at Lanier.