The Chargers’ comprehensive guide to the school’s new guidance staff

The Charger Account interviewed 9th Grade Counselor Jill Riebow and College Advisor Emily Strain.

What are some things students can go to you for?

Riebow: Being an academic counselor, mostly academically based things. Students can see us for grades, or if they are struggling in class. They can also see me for anything related to college, career readiness, and testing (such as questions on SAT). If they are having any other issues, they can visit me, and we can make referrals out to the Almaden Valley Counseling Services on campus.

Strain: Students can come to me for any questions with college applications, research about careers, major exploration or community college resources—basically, anything related to college and accessing higher education.

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for or thinking about going to college?

R: To not take it lightly; think about what your goals are, aim for what you want to do. Try not to be influenced by other people and do a lot of research. Figure out what you want to do through career searches or university visits. Students should pursue their passions such as being an electrician, going to vocational school or cutting hair: do what makes them happy. Students should follow what they want to do—happiness is key—and to not be pushed into what you do not want to do. It is not about making the highest salary.

S: I would say try challenging yourself in subjects that interest you; if you are really interested in history, take AP classes such as European or U.S. History. Make sure you keep up in your other classes as well. Get involved in activities outside of school as well; it’s important to be actively involved in your community.

How do you think students should use the school’s services?

R: My advice for students is to take high school seriously, ask for help, advocate for yourself: get help, get peer tutoring, go to tutorial, make use of your time on campus to get assistance with your work.

S: I would say to utilize the resources you have here; talk to staff, because many of them have gone to universities and colleges that students may be interested in and can tell the students if they would be a good fit. They can also see that universities are welcoming and helpful for low-income or first generation students and see which American universities are seeking to diversify their campuses.

Are students free to walk in for help? When are you most free for students?

R: Students can drop in anytime; I am available during tutorial when I am not holding a workshop, before school (from 7:30 AM to 8), and for 30 minutes after school. Students can also drop in during break and lunch, and in case of emergencies, during class. Parents are encouraged to make appointments, and if they do, it would be nice to have the students with them.

S: Students are more than welcome to walk in. I am here from 8 AM to 4 PM from Monday through Friday. If students want to schedule in advance they can by emailing me (estrain@berkeley.edu); whatever is easiest for them.

Did you work in any other schools or professions before coming to Leland?

R: I started out as an art teacher 20 years ago, and later became a school counselor. I then worked in Portland for about 13 years as a counselor, and recently moved to California. This school seemed like a good fit; I live close to the area, and the school demographic is very close to what I have worked with in Portland.

Why did you choose your career?

S: In college I enjoyed being a peer tutor, which inspired me to pursue a potential career in education. I applied for a program with UC Berkeley, Destination College Advising Corps—I heard about it through a friend, and it was something I believed was a good stepping stone for my career path. It is a near peer program, meaning that it takes recent graduates and places them in local schools. The mission is to make college a viable option for any of our students.