Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Mighty Mentors

Posted 10/12/2018 by Mia Harsh

New counselors Jillian Gleason and Maggie Kennedy are prepared to help Spartans succeed. photo by Baxter Stein

New counselors Jillian Gleason and Maggie Kennedy come to Thomas Jefferson prepared to help students through their high school careers.

The counselors at TJ are highly dedicated to students and aim to help them with their academics, emotional well being, and with planning for the future as their high school experiences come to a close. While the counseling staff has not entirely changed, TJ welcomed two new faces to its team this year. Both Jillian Gleason and Maggie Kennedy joined the Thomas Jefferson staff this semester, bringing warmth, kindness, and a passion for aiding students through the toils of high school.

Gleason is the counselor for all students who have last names that begin with the letters A through D. She has an undergraduate degree in International Studies which led her to join the Peace Corps prior to her career in counseling. Through this organization, she was deployed to Togo, West Africa, where she lived for two years before returning to earn her graduate degree in Counseling from Colorado State University at Pueblo. She then joined the staff at Abraham Lincoln High School as a counselor, and finally came to TJ. Gleason has become very fond of the school, students, and staff. “There is a lot of energy, school spirit, and pride. I feel like students are really excited to be here. The communication has been phenomenal on behalf of the administration with the staff, as well as staff with students, and students to me as a counselor,” explained Gleason. She hopes to help increase the graduation rate, the college and career readiness benchmark, and help with post-secondary plans as much as possible. During her time here, her goal is to also learn the needs of the school and the individual students by ensuring that everyone is “ready to pursue whatever they feel is the best version of themselves.”

Students with last names that start with the letters E through L will now have Maggie Kennedy as their counselor. Prior to becoming a counselor, Kennedy earned her undergraduate in Psychology and Spanish, which led her to living in Honduras for a year. For five years she was involved in public health work and employed under Cooking Matters, a non-profit organization that teaches cooking and nutrition classes to low-income families around Denver. Following her time at Cooking Matters, Kennedy decided that she wanted to help people one-on-one. She decided to become a counselor since she already enjoyed teaching, so she attended graduate school classes on the weekends through the University of Northern Colorado. From there, she interned at West Leadership Academy, serving as the only counselor until recently making the switch to Thomas Jefferson High School. Kennedy is glad to have joined the team at TJ, praising both the students and staff by saying, “I can tell that it is a school that really cares about what’s best for its students, and I think that the culture of the teachers and everyone is very welcoming.” Kennedy intends to develop relationships with her students, learning their hopes and desires, and doing what she can to assist them in following whatever path they think is best after high school.

Visiting with counselors is essential for ensuring that high school experiences go smoothly for all students and they are as effective as possible in their academic careers. It is for this reason that both Gleason and Kennedy hope to see each and every one of their students this year. This is important especially for seniors, as college applications and graduation draw near and there are many steps which must be taken to have all go well. Even so, students in every grade can benefit from a trip to their counselor. Freshmen can learn what they need to do academically to succeed and what courses they should take to be on track to graduate. Sophomores have a great support system for keeping their academics up to par and on track. Lastly, juniors can start looking into the college admissions process and consider what they may want to strive for in their career path.

Academic difficulties are not the only things which counselors aim to help students overcome. Kennedy feels it important to stress that they are,”also here to support with social and emotional issues. Our goal is to help students succeed, so we try to assist them with any barriers that come up and we are here for career, social and emotional, and academic support.” If any students are struggling with school, questioning what is the next best step to take, or just need support, a wonderful and easy place to start is to visit with their counselor.

TJ’s new counselors, Gleason and Kennedy, are assuredly going to make a positive impact on their school and its students as they further their careers here. Students should seize the opportunity of having these counselors and visit with them as soon as possible, because ultimately they are here to help.