Ask A Jag: Ms. Berry


Nandini Dasari and Tina Luo

This week’s Spotlight Jag is Ms. Berry. Ms. Berry is a counselor and enthusiastic ambassador of Jaguar Spirit. She’s ready for your questions about college, classes, or anything else FMHS! 


Q: As counselors, do you personalize recommendation letters that you send to students? Or do you use a template?  

A: We do NOT have a template. Our goal is to personalize every letter we send out.  That is why it is so important that students get to know their counselor. We require a packet to be completed by the student before we write the letters. This gives us more background that is imperative in writing a good letter. The more information students provide for us, the better the letter will be. The best letters are the ones I write about students I know personally. I am able to include personal anecdotes that can allow the college reps to really see who these students are!


Q: As a sophomore, do I need to start thinking about what colleges I want to attend? What can I do now to make the college application process easier in the future? 

A: It is NEVER too early to start thinking about colleges. In fact, we have some wonderful tools to assist students through this process. ALL students need to become familiar with the counseling page of the FMHS website. There are links to different college searches, as well as instructions on how to log in to Choices 360. In Choices 360 there is a resume builder. Sophomore students should start this and update as needed. Once they begin applying to colleges, that is one less thing students will have to do.


Q: What is your favorite/least favorite thing about being a high school counselor? 

A: My least favorite thing to do would be anything that takes away from time with students. Scheduling is a beast, but it is critical for student’s success, so not all of it is “bad”.  I also don’t like to contact parents when something serious is going on with their child. That means a child is hurting. However, I also know that I am advocating for that student to get the help he or she needs. My favorite thing about being a counselor is the relationships I build with students! I love my students, and the ones who come in to talk to me know that! I want my students to know that they always have someone in their corner. I also love being part of their planning for the future. I see so much potential in all of my students and walking through that process is always exciting. Whether I am assisting with college applications or directing students to trade schools, they are equally as important to me.


Q: What motivates you to greet students so enthusiastically in the morning? 

A: So much! Some students enter our building without having had anyone speak to them that morning. Some come in who have just had an argument with a parent, sibling, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. I want to be a little ray of sunshine for that student.  Kindness is HUGE for me! Some students do not have any friends, but I know that I have attempted to speak to every student when they pass by in the morning.  They need to know that someone cares about them. I have also met some amazing kids who are not part of my alphabet. One student in particular stands out.  She moved out of state over the summer, but we continue to keep in touch via email. That is so rewarding!


Q: What made you want to be a counselor, specifically in high school?

A: My career in education began as a third grade teacher. I was immediately drawn to the children, who I knew needed extra love and care. I decided to begin working on my Master’s Degree the summer following my first year of teaching. I wanted to be able to hone in on the emotional needs of students. Once I earned my Master’s Degree, I became an elementary school counselor. I always thought that was where I wanted to be. In the fall of 2005, a counselor from FMHS contacted me and asked if I would be interested in applying for a counseling position that was going to open up in January. Initially I thought, “no way”! As someone who is not afraid to tackle new challenges, I decided to give it a shot. I came in and met with the counseling staff and decided that I would apply.  Once I started working with high school students, I KNEW this was where I was supposed to be! I absolutely love working with students in this age range. Looking back, I know that high school is where I should have been from the very beginning, but I am thankful for my experiences at the elementary level.  I have remained in contact with several of my students, and it is wonderful to see the lives they have created for themselves and the successes they have achieved!