New to the school: Meet Ms. Kartsakalis


By Leah Caruso, Staff Writer

As we are starting off this 2021-2022 school year, we have the pleasure to have gained new and talented teachers to Wayne Hills. One of our new staff members is Ms. Kartsakalis. We are all so excited to get to know her, welcome her to our school, and see everything she has to offer to students.

New to not just Wayne Hills but Wayne, Ms. Kartsakalis came from Monmouth County and still resides there. For college, she attended Rutgers University – New Brunswick and majored in Psychology. She also received her Masters’ Degree in School Counseling from Monmouth University. Working as a school counselor for seven years now, Ms. Kartsakalis is more than experienced. She has seen it all, heard it all, and done it all. She previously worked as School Counselor in a small school district in Union County. She worked in a combined middle school and high school. As a matter of fact, it was less than half the size of Wayne Hills!

Ms. Kartsakalis was influenced by her very own high-school counselor. A fun fact about her, she was a first-generation American whose parents did not attend college, and she felt lost and anxious when it came to the college application process. Her parents were supportive but for the most part she was on her own throughout high school. Because of that, she turned to her counselor for help. She loved how her counselor was always kind and patient and didn’t care how many times she went to talk to her. Her counselor was a huge advocate for Ms. Kartsakalis and encouraged her to challenge herself academically. After highschool, she wanted to give back and help others the way her own counselor did for herself. It is important for Ms. Kartsakalis to be someone that students can confide in the way her counselor was for her in high school.

Ms. Kartsakalis spoke about her role as a guidance counselor and what made her take this job.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish here at Wayne Hills?

I want students to see Guidance as more than just scheduling and college planning. I want my students to find my office as a safe space outside the classroom, where they can vent and talk about their everyday concerns and problems. I have adult friends who tell me all the time that they never knew who their counselor was in high-school. This is the exact opposite of what I want to accomplish. Not every student has support at home. I want them to know that they have at least one trust-worthy adult at school that they can always go to for help. 

Q: What are you looking forward to most this year?

I am excited for a slightly normal school year and working directly with students again! It was extremely challenging building rapport with students during the height of the pandemic when there were students who were completely virtual or hybrid. Meeting with students over Zoom wasn’t ideal. It’s nice to be back in a full building again!

Q: How do you handle the stress of your busy job?

Self-care is very important. Outside of school, I like to read and exercise. I’m also an avid Netflix binge-watcher. I also have a good support system to lean on during stressful times. 

Q: How does your role as a school counselor support the school’s mission of providing a nurturing environment?

One of my main goals is to provide a safe, nurturing space for students. I make it a point to let students know that I am not a disciplinarian and I am not judging them. I am here to listen and provide support. 

Q: What do you think is the most important characteristic of a school counselor? What do you love most about your job?

I believe kindness and empathy are the most important characteristics of a School Counselor. Students will not want to confide in their counselor and seek their support if they do not feel comfortable around them. The best part of my job is the rapport I have built with students over the years and seeing their progress and growth over time. I keep in touch with former students who have graduated who still reach out to me regularly with life updates and to thank me for the help I have given them over the years. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the smallest acts of kindness meant everything to them. It’s very rewarding.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to work with students? What influenced you to be a school counselor?

I initially went to college Undecided but I knew I enjoyed working with children. I thought about becoming an elementary school teacher but a few of my part-time jobs at the time made me realize that I worked better with children individually and in small groups. I worked as a camp counselor, a preschool aide/substitute, and a supervisor for a before and after-care school program. When I began Graduate School, my goal was to become an elementary school counselor, as I liked that age group the best. However, I’ve only worked at the high-school level with teenagers and now, I can’t imagine going back!

Let’s all welcome Ms. Kartsakalis to Wayne Hills with open arms and wish her the best of luck here!