Counseling Office: Spies and P.I.S


Grace Schmidt

Left to right: Mandy Orth Gibney, Terri Court, Kate Evenson, Nikki Brandenburger, Janelle Stahl Ladbury, Lisa Metzger, and Mary Krueger.

Ever since semester two started, I’ve been using my open period to hang out in the counseling office. Now you might think that’s weird and that I should just hang out in the commons or the library. But it’s super chill there, and since it’s a counseling office, it feels peaceful. (I’ve become their unofficial decorator and Nikki’s imagery assistant). So all that time there gave me an opportunity to get to know them more.
If you don’t know any of the people in the counseling office, let me give you a refresher. We have our four counselors, Terri Court (A-F), Mandy Orth Gibney (G-K), Janelle Stahl Ladbury (L-R), and Kate Evenson (S-Z). And of course, we have Mary Krueger (Student Wellness and Family Facilitator), Lisa Metzger (Career Advisor), and our very own Nikki Brandenburger (Registrar).
Each person has worked at North for various amounts of time, from Court being here for 18 years to this only being Metzger’s third. And don’t worry, they don’t have favorites or even least favorites. I was repeatedly told it’s like choosing your favorite kid. They also hate standardized testing as much as the rest of us!
Orth Gibney used to be a private detective, police officer, and taught self-defense classes (she didn’t think those were interesting enough). Evenson said she used to be an undercover spy for Yugoslavia (yeah, sure) and Metzger told me, “I am a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ junkie. I once took a college course on Laura Ingalls Wilder.”
As for their favorite singer or band? I got answers like Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, and Prince. Brandenburger’s favorite show is ‘Criminal Minds’ and Metzger’s is ‘The Bachelor,’ meanwhile, Orth Gibney’s favorite movies are “The Godfather” and “A Christmas Story.” Rom-coms also seem to be a fan favorite around the counseling office!
It’s easy to see that the students are the counseling office’s favorite part about their jobs. Unfortunately, as Krueger said, “Our caseloads are so incredibly big that it can feel overwhelming at times.” This can be the hardest thing about the job, making it harder to help students. However, Metzger jokingly said that working with the registrar and the counselors was the most challenging part of the job.
Stahl Ladbury told me why she became a counselor, saying, “When I was a biology teacher, my kids in my classroom were coming to school and they didn’t have their basic needs met. And so, it was hard to get them to learn and understand biology when they didn’t know where they were going to stay at night or what they were going to eat. That was really heartbreaking for me, so I wanted to do more to help them.”
“Life is challenging for everyone, but with support and healthy strategies, the bumps in our road are manageable. I enjoy being there for students and helping them learn how to manage the ups and downs of their lives,” said Court when asked why she wanted to help students.
Apparently, no one has a favorite colleague in the counseling office with Court saying, “We are a great team and we all provide wonderful support to each other.”
Stahl Ladbury added, “I think we have the best team in the district and so with all of our personalities, we work so well together. We have great strengths and we complement each other. Like, my weakness could be someone’s strength.”
That can be seen as true every day with each person in the counseling office helping students. Even if certain circumstances are out of their control, they try their best to help their students each and every day. So if you have time, make a little effort and say thank you for all they do. Some of us wouldn’t be here without them.