Sixteen years ago, Tinika Campbell was teaching in the classroom and found herself wanting to do more for her students.
“I started having breakfast clubs where kids could do homework and lunch clubs where kids could come in and work on projects,” she said. “Then someone put a bug in my ear and was like, ‘I think you need to become a counselor’.”
Campbell, who has been in education for the past 22 years, started as a 3rd-grade teacher at Bates Elementary (Jefferson County) before becoming a counselor at Cane Run Elementary School (Jefferson County).
“I taught at an East End (of Louisville) school and then I went and became a counselor at a school that was 94% free and reduced lunch,” she said.
Over the years, she transitioned from elementary school to middle school and eventually became a counselor at the high school level. She currently works at Louisville Central High School.
Campbell said her transitions throughout the district have helped to create lasting relationships with her students.
“At least one-third of my middle school students were at the high school with me,” she said. “It was surreal, because I’m seeing my first group of middle school babies graduating and I’m coming to high school with my second group of middle school babies.”
Although being a counselor may come with long hours, Campbell said it’s worth going home tired knowing she made an impact.
“When you look at kids and you see success stories and you know, I played a part in helping this kid work through this or work through that or learn this skill that they may not have learned,” she said.
Campbell said she has found her calling. She said she loves her profession and encourages anyone who wants to make an impact within their community to become a school counselor.
“Education is a challenge; I would not downplay that ever. However, I think more than anything, for people who have a passion for kids and want to be in education, this is the perfect time because kids need us now,” Campbell said.
Being a resource for students and having a big heart for children is what Campbell said being a school counselor is all about.
“We’re all in this together, and if you build relationships with the students, kids will pay attention and you will leave an impact,” she said.