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Meet Heather Barker- Our HS Counsellor

Heather is a treasured part of our ISA family, she has been with us for six years as our High School Counsellor carrying out work of paramount importance, ensuring the positive mental wellbeing of our students. We have asked Heather a few questions about her career in counselling, working at ISA- and a bit more about herself!

Why did you become a counsellor?

I taught in Kansas City, Ireland, and Dubai before moving to ISA where I initially taught Grade 6 Health, Social Studies, and English for 3 years before moving into HS counselling. It appealed because I really enjoyed facilitating advisory sessions for grade 6, especially the organisation, time management and prioritising lessons to aid transition to middle school.

I’ve always enjoyed helping others, particularly guiding young people towards a pathway that fits their needs. When the HS counselling opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to work with the high school students, so I pursued the necessary certification while on maternity leave with my third child. I am now in my sixth year as ISA’s HS counsellor!

What is your philosophy on counselling and wellbeing?

Balance. I encourage students to develop proactive strategies towards positive learning habits early in high school because explicitly teaching them to manage and overcome academic challenges early on will lead to more positive outcomes later. Helping students organise their workload more effectively through more careful planning can reduce stress and enhance wellbeing. I strongly encourage students to actively participate in sports and voluntary work, creating outlets outside of school to nourish their social development.

How do you describe your role as a counsellor?

Career and university guidance, organising career events and university visits, registration of new students and transitions, leading the HS Ambassador programme, course selection and registration, social emotional support, and academic support and interventions – and lots of other things too!

What is one piece of advice you give to your students?

Try not to get too wrapped up in what the future holds, and work on what you can influence here and now. There are no quick fixes to make the future any more certain so give every day your best and know that there is plenty of support to reach the next stages of your life. Deal with the here and now and get excited about the adventures that life will throw your way! Always speak to your trusted adult and share the load.

What do you think is the best way to motivate students?

I encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning, and actions, and explore the positives in each situation.

What do you enjoy most about working at an International School?

I love the diversity of the student body and constantly learn from them and their experiences.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?

I guess it’s the same advice I would give my students.

What’s one thing your students don’t know about you?

I can play classical piano, traditional Irish violin, and tin whistle! I’ll entertain my guests when I fulfil my dream of running my own B&B one day….

A massive thank you to Heather for all the work she has put in the last six years, as nourishing the minds of our students can lead to a brighter future for everyone!

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International Baccalaureate Council of International Schools Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Cambridge International Examinations CNED