Decades of helping pupils blossom

Otago Girls’ High School guidance counsellor Ada Crowe is retiring after 30 years at the school....
Otago Girls’ High School guidance counsellor Ada Crowe is retiring after 30 years at the school. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
For 30 years, Ada Crowe has been dispensing wise counsel at Otago Girls’ High School.

Now the school guidance counsellor has decided to take someone else’s advice for herself — retire so you can enjoy it.

Mrs Crowe will turn 70 next month, much to the surprise of her colleagues. Her youthful exuberance belies her age.

"I think that I look like this because I’ve been privileged to work with young people for nearly 40 years.

"Staying and working with young people has helped to keep me young."

She started at Taieri College in the early 1980s, teaching home economics, clothing, general science, human biology, social education, health education and special needs classes.

"In the areas that I was teaching in, there were always a lot of students who seemed to need some extra support, some extra help, and I became interested in getting involved with students in a different way."

So she began studying some health education papers at Massey University.

"Wellbeing and healthy lifestyle has always interested me ... as well as supporting young people with their issues."

In 1990, she was appointed as the guidance counsellor at OGHS; her role was to "help young people learn how to help themselves".

"I don’t say you must do this or you must do that. It’s up to them to work out (with my help and support) what might be helpful for them to try."

She said the need for guidance counselling in schools had increased dramatically over the past 30 years.

"The issues that young people are facing today are so different from the ones when I started out counselling.

"We didn’t have cellphones and we didn’t have the internet back then.

"So if a student was being given a hard time at school, at least they could go home and there was really no way of anyone contacting them — they could have a break from it all.

"But now days, they are 24/7 on their cellphones and it’s very hard for them to not be hooked into their cellphones constantly because that’s the way they communicate with each other. It’s just part of the way they run their daily lives."

She said the job was exhausting, but also very rewarding.

"As a counsellor, because every hour of the day that you’re in your office, if you’ve got someone in front of you, you have to focus, you have to concentrate and you need to listen.

"And in fact, at the end of

the day, you just want no demands."

Because of that, reading books was high on her list of tentative retirement plans.

"But at this moment, I have no plans for retirement because I need a very long break. I’ll see what happens after that very long break."

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