Students writing

English teacher goes back to school to become a school counselor

After more than a decade in the classroom, Bothell High School English teacher Jim Sanders is changing courses and becoming a professional school counselor.

“I have 165 kids that I see every day, and I really like the idea of getting to build more sustained, in-depth connections with students,” Jim said.

This role will give him the opportunity to increase the support he can offer to students during such a formative period.

“I love the high school environment,” Jim said. “It’s a kind of monumental time in their lives. They’re getting their licenses, and playing high school sports. There is such an energy when they’re growing up and starting to make choices.”

Yet some students lack the support they need to succeed, and Jim looks forward to being an advocate and resource for those individuals.

“There are kids that have no one supporting them,” Jim said. “Being that person that kids can come to when they have frustration or need support, or when lunch isn’t happening [is rewarding]. There is an impact you can have on kids that is immediate.”

Pursuing a degree in school counseling

Jim Sanders

Jim Sanders

The decision to go back to school as an adult is a big one. Like many professionals, Jim decided to earn his Master of Education in Professional School Counseling while still working full time.

“For me, it was get up early, go to school and teach all day, plan for the next few hours, and then transition to grad school,” Jim said. “It’s one of those things where I chunked it down and thought, ‘what’s today’s job?’ and then did it one day at a time.”

As a teacher with limited time, going back for a new master’s degree was a sacrifice.

“It was really hard for me to go back to school, to give up what little free time I thought I had,” Jim said. “However, CityU has been a very positive experience for something that was scary and hard for me to do.”

Part of what he has enjoyed about CityU has been the opportunity to learn from faculty with practical experience in the field.

“With my first master’s [at a different institution], three quarters of the instructors were professors and only a quarter had actually been classroom teachers,” Jim said. “All of our instructors [at CityU] have been or are currently counselors. There is something incredibly valuable about having experts stand in front of us and share their experiences and their knowledge.”

In the second half of his program, he’s been able to gain experience himself through his internship.

“On the good days, teaching is the best job on the planet, and the longer you teach, the more good days there are,” Jim said. “You have to have experience and build practice. With counseling, I’m going through the process and I’m not that good at it yet, but I will be.”

With his experience in the classroom and drive to support students, we’re certain Jim will be a valuable resource and excellent counselor for years to come.

Learn more

If you’re interested in becoming a school counselor, learn about City University of Seattle’s Master of Arts in Counseling – Professional School Counseling degree, or request more information.