While most eagerly await escaping the confines of the school system, Kelly Bergmann knew she would never want to leave. She attributes her interest in counseling to her love for school. “I always loved … school, I knew that’s where I wanted to work so I ended up doing dropout prevention at a border town in Arizona and loved it,” said Bergmann.
Both her mother, a school teacher and her high school math teacher served as inspiration for her pursuit of a career in education. “I think [my math teacher] in high school solidified it for me, that I wanted to work with kids. That’s what I loved most about it, not so much the math part of it, but just forming relationships with kids and being in the school environment.” said Bergmann.
She was initially interested in teaching math, but when she found herself struggling in a college level pre-calculus course, she decided to pursue another career. This lead her to work in dropout prevention where she worked with at risk kids. Shortly after, she moved to Iowa with her husband, who is a guidance counselor at Liberty High, and she started working as a counselor for West High.
Being a counselor is not always easy. “For the kids that really struggle, it’s hard for me to send them home and … sit there and eat this nice meal when I know kids who might not eat until they come back for breakfast in the morning,” said Bergmann. She also finds it difficult when she is sure she is able to help a student in need. “The worst part is not having things in your control. So like we can control things here for kids when they are here but when they leave our doors, we have no influence on whether or not they eat at home or have a safe environment or how much time they are spending on homework,” said Bergmann. Despite these difficulties, she greatly enjoys most aspects of the job, including the school atmosphere and watching students advance.
Although counseling is an important part of the family, Bergmann likes to keep work separate from life at home. In Bergmann’s house, family interaction is key. They like to shut off their electronics and talk instead of switch on the television. She also finds time for other interests. “I love to do Shutterfly photo scrapbooks. They are my favorite thing,” said Bergmann. She makes a scrapbook per school year and one for each trip she goes on.
Bergmann holds the belief that students should feel welcome to approach their counselors whenever.“It’s okay to say hi to us,” said Bergmann. She believes that students should be less scared to approach their counselors, even if it is only to say hi. She wants to remind students, “Just because we say no to a schedule change doesn’t mean that you can never ask us for anything else.”