20 Under 40: Erin Parrott dedicated to student development as Craig Middle School counselor
As a Moffat County native, Erin Parrott knows what it’s like to grow up in Northwest Colorado, both the pros and cons of being in a rural community.
Though some parts of the youth experience have changed, she gives her all to relate to students and guide through their development as a counselor at Craig Middle School.
In your chosen career field, how has the job evolved since you first began?
I only recently started my current position as a counselor for Craig Middle School in August. I can’t say that much has evolved within the position itself within this short time frame, but I am excited to see what changes will come in the future.
How do you feel your line of work is different from someone in a similar job a generation before you?
I think the biggest difference between my career and careers before me is the shift from “guidance counselors” to “school counselors.” Usually when people think of this job they think of someone that helps students choose classes, fill out applications to college or decide on a career, and send out transcripts, and this used to be the case. While we still help students with academics, we also support them through social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. We provide services to IEP students to reach social/emotional goals, lead classroom and group lessons depending on need, implement behavior support plans, respond to in-school crises, and connect students and their families to outside resources.
What kind of challenges do you feel like you and your coworkers will face in the next decade?
I think the continuous challenge in my position is just being able to adjust as society and culture change as they always do. A big part of this job is continuing to educate ourselves, even long after our degrees are obtained to stay up on the newest research and techniques. We always have to be open to learning new things and trying new things.
What is the most rewarding part of your job on a day-to-day basis?
The most rewarding part of my job, without a doubt, is being able to see growth and success in the students I work with. I get so excited when I see them learn new skills, overcome challenges, and meet their goals.
If you hadn’t gone down your particular career path, what else would you have liked to do with your life?
Anyone who knows me knows I love dogs. I couldn’t be a veterinarian because I have a weak stomach, but it would be cool to start a dog rescue. The only problem is I wouldn’t be able to rehome the dogs and they would all end up living with me!
What types of jobs would you avoid at all costs?
I don’t think I could do any job that has a night shift. I can’t stay awake all night! That being said, kudos to all of our hardworking coal mine and power plant employees that do those night shifts!
How do you feel your work-life balance differs from those of your parents/grandparents?
I don’t think my work-life balance differs from my parents or grandparents. Actually, I think I got my work ethic from them. It’s important to work hard so that we can play hard, and lucky for us there are all sorts of fun outdoor activities to do in our area from fishing to snowmobiling.
How do you feel everyday life is better or worse in 2020 with certain technology shifts?
Technology can be beneficial in the school setting for the staff as well as the students. With their iPads, students have their entire curriculum at their fingertips, and it is much simpler for staff to implement. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen an increase in cyberbullying between students, and this really takes a toll on their confidence and self-esteem. I’m also worried about the effects of social media on our youth’s mental health.
What kind of strengths or weaknesses do you believe your generation brings to your career field?
I think my generation is more open to sharing and discussing mental health concerns. I hope to see this acceptance grow as time goes on and to see the stigma around mental health diminished. Seeking treatment for mental illness should be as easily accepted as seeing a doctor for the flu, and I think my generation will be the ones to really push this message.
How do you feel your generation fits into Moffat County’s future?
My generation is Moffat County’s future! I see us as a unique group of individuals that work hard and chase their dreams, just like our parents and grandparents before us. Aside from my college years, Moffat County has always been my home, and I’m excited to see how our community grows and changes with my generation’s influence.
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