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BOCES Guidance Counselor Prepares Kids for Careers

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Jim Matera is a different kind of guidance counselor than you might have had in high school, which he said can work to his advantage.

“The guidance counselor I had in high school wasn’t very helpful, so now that I’m in this role, I want to use my experience to help my students make good choices,” said the the Center for Career Services at Southern Westchester BOCES counselor.

“I do that by getting involved in projects with them and making sure I’m noticeable out in the hallway.”

Matera said his goal is to “make connections” with his students so that they feel more comfortable paying a visit to his office if they are having trouble in school.

His role at BOCES is a bit unique to those of guidance counselors in local high schools, though. Since the kids spend half the academic day taking career-oriented classes and the other half at one of 30 local high schools in the area, Matera is in regular contact with staff there to make sure students are adequately fulfilling the requirements and maintaining the grades needed to receive course credit.

He's also in contact with parents — and not just when a student is in trouble.

"I call parents when something good happens, which helps a lot," Matera said.

Matera said another main objective he has as a guidance counselor is to prepare all 500 of his students for their future careers. Relating classroom situations to on-the-job experiences often helps put that into perspective, he said.

“If you’re working in the automotive industry, you have to have the same skills as you would in an office,” Matera said. “You still have a boss and coworkers, you have to be on time and respond in a certain way.”

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