Meet Mrs. Hodge, SLS’ New Counselor

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Meet Mrs. Hodge, SLS’ New Counselor

Danielle Nares '21, On Campus and Arts Co-Editor

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SLS students and teachers now have an opportunity to talk about issues – school related or personal – with someone they trust on campus thanks to Mrs. Hodge, the newest member of the St. Luke’s community.

In her current role as School Counselor, Mrs. Hodge has two main responsibilities. She works with students and staff to talk about almost anything the counselee comes in with (mostly concerning mental health, pressure, and ways to reduce stress). Additionally, she, Ms. DeMarco, and Mrs. Bueckman work together as a proactive team to recognize problems that specific individuals face. Then, they put certain measures in place to better the situation, by setting up weekly meetings with that student, for example.

“Some students have weekly meetings during their free periods, and they can talk and spend…20-40 minutes with me,” she explained.

Mrs. Hodge is well-versed with the behaviors of adolescents. She has a genuine interest in working with children and counseling, and engaged in work with both when she earned a Masters in Social Work at Fordham University. In addition to her academic endeavors, her personal experience as a high school student at Greens Farms Academy is still important to her today, because she can empathize with the middle and upper school students who come to see her. 

“Things that [students] go through now, I am not so far removed from the students’ age that I’m not completely out of the loop,” she noted.

 Nevertheless, she also understands that there are some aspects of student’s lives that she is still learning about. 

“There are things that students are going through that I didn’t experience, like online bullying. There is a need for a direct line of communication with somebody at the school, so if something is happening at a specific moment, students can feel comfortable going to them,” explained Mrs. Hodge. 

Additionally, having been a student of color at a predominately white institution, she has  insight to serve as a resource for students navigating challenges similar to those she faced.

“[My advice] is really coming from someone who knows about it [being a student of color at a predominantly white institution]… so now, as a faculty [member] of color, I know about the other side of being a student of color and not having the same privileges my peers did as far as talking about things I did not know about,” she remarks. 

Going forward, she has two main goals. Her first goal is to build a team of counselors.

“I would like to build a team of school counselors – with an ‘s.’ Me, being the only one for both Middle and Upper School, and even though St. Luke’s is a smaller community than, say, a public school, there needs to be more than one person that the students feel that they can go to, to understand the climate that is currently surrounding mental health right now and having people who are qualified to handle what [individuals] may bring into our offices,” she remarks.

Her second goal is to destigmatize conversation surrounding mental health. 

“I would like to see, at least in the St. Luke’s community, that we’re breaking away from the stigma that some students and faculty have about taking care of your mental health,” she adds. 

Mrs. Hodge understands that individuals’ hesitation to share intimate parts of their lives with a stranger may prevent them from coming to her. She recommends that students visit her office a few times to say hello, or to send an email introduction, so that lines of communication are open. She also reminds students that she will not respond with judgment to concerns they bring to her.

“I actually think that meeting her for the first time and just sharing parts of my story was really comforting. I knew that she was there only to support me, not there to say anything that would be discouraging,” explains a junior.  

As we approach the end of the semester where student stress levels are at an all-time high, it may be helpful to talk to someone about strategies for managing the workload. Mrs. Hodge is available in room 229 by appointment (via email) and she also takes walk-ins.  

Please welcome her to our community, and remember to stop by her office to say hello.