In her office, Upper School Counselor Erin Salzbrun '05 has a wall of post-it notes with aspirations written on them and a sign on top that simply says "take what you need."
The wall is full on Mondays, but as students come throughout the week and pluck them off, you'll begin to see holes and then, by Friday, it's often empty.
"Sometimes they will talk about what they choose, sometimes they don't," Erin said. "But either way, just by realizing what they are dealing with in that moment and watching them take time to step back and examine what they need, that's mindfulness. And sometimes, that's what helps them get from one part of the day to the next."
Erin describes herself as a non-solutions oriented counselor - which means, she's not going to step in and fix things, she's going to empower students to do it on their own. Whether that's just offering an aspiration or a safe space to talk, her ultimate goal is to set them up with the tools they need to be able to plan, learn, cope, or engage their peers and adults in tough conversations.
"My biggest thing is being able to meet people where they are at and being genuine enough so that they feel comfortable talking to me. In my office, you share what you need to share, there is no judgement, and it doesn't have to all be about problems - I want to know about their successes as well," she said.
Building those relationships also gives Erin time to encourage students to think about their "legacy," or, who they want to be. While that does include some talk about what classes that student will take or what programs they are interested in, it also involves discussions on mentoring, community service, and being a good role model.
"I definitely knew that I always wanted to come back to Antilles, and working with adolescents, in particular, has always been my strong suit," she said. "And, part of that is because I was always looking for someone to talk to in high school - at the time, we didn't have a formal counselor here.
I think it's really important, beside the teacher, beside the parent, to have someone who is a source of safety and offers a different perspective," Erin said.