As our school counselor, Ms. Laura works with iCademy’s middle school and high school students, helping them set and track their goals. Starting with us in 2019 after teaching english and science abroad, Ms. Laura loves to meet individually with students and collaborate with our other staff members! She believes we’ve got the hardest-working educators around that care for every student’s success, and she enjoys being part of that.
How did you come to work at iCademy?
I was hired in 2019 after teaching english and science in Hungary and Slovakia. I moved back to the States and worked in Holland and then Grand Rapids for a few years. I took a small break from teaching to raise my older kids, but decided to get my school counseling degree, which eventually led to my position here at iCademy!
Why did you decide to counsel at iCademy versus other schools?
I love the flexibility of the school. It’s virtual, but there’s more personal contact than other virtual schools. From a counselor perspective, it’s great to collaborate in meaningful ways with my colleagues in-person, but the ability to work from home is also incredibly helpful!
What do you do to help iCademy students?
I mainly focus on three domains: academic, career, and social/emotional. We’re in the process of establishing more programs for students, but overall I help students to meet their goals, or tease out what their goals could be. I meet with them at the beginning and end of each semester to make sure they’re on-track for graduation and any post-secondary plans.
What student programs do you facilitate?
Something we highly recommend for students is getting connected with career and tech centers. While all-virtual school is great for some students, others need more in-person connection, so we try really hard to facilitate those types of in-person connection opportunities.
For higher-achieving students in Michigan, I can also help students get involved in dual-enrollment programs, which allows them to enroll in classes at a local college during high school. It’s basically our alternative to more traditional AP courses, letting students earn college credits early, and iCademy can cover a portion of tuition for students who are interested.
What student services do you offer that they may not know about?
It isn’t officially available yet, but we’re currently working on establishing a credit-earning high school-level seminar class that focuses on social and emotional goals for students. It’ll be a full-year class with 1 live lesson per week using the CASEL-approved Base Education platform.
The class will teach about managing stress, discuss coping strategies, and go into detail about healthy communication, healthy relationships, responsible digital citizenship, online safety and more. We’re really excited to offer this opportunity for students!
What do you do for fun outside of iCademy?
When the weather’s nice, my family and I like to go biking together every weekend. I also love to travel when I can! I grew up in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, and I taught in Hungary and Slovakia, so exploring the world has really always been part of my life. Overall, I enjoy anything that involves extra family time!
If you could give iCademy students one piece of advice, what would it be?
Mindset is huge. You have to believe in yourself. If you’re struggling to get into the right mindset to set yourself up for success, our whole team of teachers and staff will do our best to show just how much we believe in you, because we really do.