New Guidance Counselor: Ms. Peterson


Once a student at City High, now a guidance counselor changing schedules left and right, Mary Peterson ‘1999 is quickly adjusting to her new role. She is thinking about a survey or pulling in groups of students to ask them questions including some about City High.

“[I’ll] ask students what they think would be a good way to better City. [I’d like to] figure out what the kids think or how they view City High,” Peterson said.

She wants to get started on this project right away. Now that schedule changes are over, she has the time to start working on her plan to make City an environment where students can make the changes they envision.

“[The first few days] have been rapid fire,” Peterson said. “It’s a steep learning curve but I think I’ve got the hang of it and now that schedule changes are officially done, I’m excited to do the real work.”

Mrs. Peterson has previously had a wide variety of work. Some of these jobs include being a Maracore worker for a year in Des Moines, a Java House waitress, and a paraeducator at Southeast. She was then a school counselor in a middle school until transitioning to become a horse barn manager, fulfilling one of her lifelong dreams.

“I can’t tell other people to follow [their] dreams if I can’t follow my own,” Peterson said.

Five years after becoming a horse barn manager, Peterson decided that the hard labor of such a job was too much and switched to education. She became a paraeducator at City and when she saw the opportunity, applied to become a guidance counselor.

“[Guidance counselors] are supposed to focus on three things,” Peterson said, “Social and emotional wellbeing, academics and career. How do we help students be better at academics? How can we help students find what they want to do for a career after college? Addressing those things is going to be the next step.”

Peterson tackles her current job with a passion to help, a confidence she achieved with her time as a City High student, and past experiences from many different fields.

“What it was that made me want to go into education was actually being a paraeducator at South East. I was looking for a job that wasn’t serving coffee to people- and I just loved being in a school, but I knew I was not a teacher,” Peterson later said. “Another influencer of just being a school counselor was actually my school counselor at City High, Sarah Hollander. She was amazing, super easy to talk to, and always available. And so I thought ‘I would love to be that as well.’”

As Peterson has adjusted to being a guidance counselor, she has worked to help students with anything that they need.

“I don’t want to presume to know what’s best for the student,” Peterson said, “I love to talk to students and see what they like. You guys know better than I could even begin to know. I think always making sure there are open doors and adults to talk to [is important]. We have tons of opportunities, just keep those available to all students, not just certain students [is crucial].”

According to her students, she is doing a great job. When going in for a schedule change, Paris Fuller 21’, loved the kindness and openness that Peterson is bringing to her new job.

“I really like her. I think she was so nice and she really took into consideration what I wanted.” Fuller said. “I really liked her smile. [It] really brightened up the room and I think that she could definitely hear me and what I had to say. She is a good listener.”