Turning the coasts: Mrs. Turner’s journey towards counseling

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Harsh Desai

Mrs. Turner begins her new era as a full-time guidance counselor

As many seniors struggle to decide on a major for college around this time of year, Mrs. Jessica Turner’s story reassures those students that they’ll figure it out when the time comes. Juggling between English, Journalism, and Psychology, she finally found her place in school counseling. 

Turner has had a unique journey towards becoming a North Penn counselor, having previously lived in California as a social worker.

“It was a lot about helping people to solve their own problems and helping connect people with the right resources. After I had my own kids, I started to get involved with their school systems, and I realized how really similar those rules can be. I’ve always loved education and working with young people, so it was a really cool fit for me to find a place where I can do the things I loved,” Turner expressed.

It was a lot about helping people to solve their own problems and helping connect people with the right resources. After I had my own kids, I started to get involved with their school systems, and I realized how really similar those rules can be. I’ve always loved education and working with young people, so it was a really cool fit for me to find a place where I can do the things I loved”

— Jessica Turner, North Penn Guidance Counselor

Turner first majored in psychology and completed her undergraduate degree in California, taking a gap year before graduating with her master’s degree in school counseling from Gwynedd Mercy University.

“I majored in psychology ‘cause that was my plan at that point. I didn’t know if I was going to go towards something more clinical or just kind of figuring things out,” Turner said.

Turner revealed more about what it was like doing different types of social work in California, learning things along the way, and discovering that it was her true passion to help people.

“I did a couple different types of social work… When I started I was working in one of the most diverse cities at the time, just population-wise… I was a home-visiting social worker, so I would go into people’s homes and look at them, which, I think, takes an incredible amount of trust and vulnerability for families to let someone in to come help,” Turner revealed.

Last year, Turner spent her time at North Penn as an interim counselor, switching from caseload to caseload (students assigned to the counselor) as she filled in for Mr. Turner, Mrs. Flocco, and Mrs. Colb.

“I think the most challenging thing at that time was that I had to change caseloads two different times… I’d start to form relationships and work with families and then I’d have to move to the next caseload and meet new students, so I didn’t get to continuously work with the same students and families the entire year. So, I am really looking forward to that this year, to be able to keep those relationships and to continue to work as the primary counselor…. The students here have been so great. It’ll be nice to have a little bit more steadiness,” Turner remarked.

Being a guidance counselor requires a great amount of patience and understanding, something Turner touched on as she discussed how her job causes her to look at things through different lenses.

“I think my ability to understand different people’s experiences and see things from their perspective is one of the most important parts of my job because I need to understand where the people that I’m working with are coming from, how they see the world and how the world sees them… so, if I’m not learning new things and not taking in perspectives and growing, then I am not doing my job well,” Turner explained.

I think my ability to understand different people’s experiences and see things from their perspective is one of the most important parts of my job because I need to understand where the people that I’m working with are coming from, how they see the world and how the world sees them… so, if I’m not learning new things and not taking in perspectives and growing, then I am not doing my job well”

— Jessica Turner, North Penn Guidance Counselor

Turner reminisced on her high school experience as well, joking about her time working on her own school’s newspaper.

“I really enjoyed it… I’ve always loved to write and if I wasn’t going to major in psychology, I would’ve been in English. I even considered journalism at the time…. I’m seriously obsessed with spelling and grammar. I was able to be a copy editor and that was probably a power I shouldn’t have had. I was circling and, no yeah… It was really fun. I’m glad I did it,” Turner enthusiastically remarked.

Turner expressed what she loves about her job, along with some of her interests, advising her students to share their own interests with her.

“The best part of my job has absolutely been the students. I love getting to talk to people and hear what they’re interested in, what they’re passionate about. I get some great recommendations from students on books and music and shows – if you have any for me just let me know – because I’m always after some… I’m all for the mystery. That’s what it’s at for sure. I love getting to know you guys… I love what I do, so I think when you’re doing the right thing that you really love, it doesn’t feel like so much work… it’s rewarding and I would literally walk around the building just smiling because I love to be here,” Turner concluded.