The moment Robin Waldron knew she would have a successful career was, ironically, when her college dean told her she would never make anything of herself. She was determined to and proceeded to prove the school official wrong. Ms. Waldron, a celebrated and beloved guidance counselor, now retired in Vero Beach, Florida, received the prestigious 25 Years of Service Award from the city of Newark in New Jersey.
Ms. Waldron attributes her success to her observation skill, personality, and ability to easily relate to people, especially the countless students she has served. Young people knew she was there for them, not just as an education professional but as a friend. Ms. Waldron also counts her godmother and a childhood history teacher as early lifelines and inspirations for the profession she would eventually choose. Her lifelong motto is “Let go, let God.”
Being understanding and compassionate was the hallmark of how Ms. Waldron approached her work with students during her long career in Newark, New Jersey, where she started as a teacher at Thirteenth Avenue Elementary School from 1973 to 1999. She then became a guidance counselor at Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary School from 1990 to 2000 and at Central High School from 2000 to 2007. She chose to teach in Newark because it was a city with many minorities and underserved families and where she witnessed racial prejudice, sometimes creating problems in classrooms. Ms. Waldron notably gave students and their parents her phone number to always make herself available, because she believed that her job was 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Setting a solid educational foundation for herself, Ms. Waldron earned a Master of Arts in counseling and human services from Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1990 and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in education from Franklin Pierce College, now Franklin Pierce University, in Rindge, New Hampshire, in 1973, in addition to completing graduate coursework in counseling. She also was a licensed professional counselor approved by the Board of Marriage and Family Examiners from 1999 to 2008 and is a certified elementary school teacher, both titles issued by the state of New Jersey. Ms. Waldron is a member of the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association and the New Jersey School Counselor Association.
Opposite to her college dean experience, Ms. Waldron has always believed and told students that they are capable of anything if they put their minds to it. Her greatest professional reward has always been the impact she has had on the future of young people, many of whom still stay in touch with her. One student, for example, is now a councilwoman in New Jersey and credits Ms. Waldron as being a positive influence. Another student now visits her in Florida after telling Ms. Waldron that if it weren’t for her encouragement, she would not have gone to college.
Ms. Waldron’s advice to anyone who wants to become a guidance counselor is to listen and be empathetic. She misses the daily talks she had with students and hearing their stories. Although she is retired from education and volunteers her time at the local soup kitchen and as a domestic violence responder, her ongoing passion for and expertise in counseling have prompted her to continue to make herself available as a consultant to provide individual or group counseling to young people or adults.
In the next five years, Ms. Waldron says she intends to enjoy retirement after giving 100% and doing her best throughout her career. However, she says she will always be ready should anyone require her counseling intervention. She remains open to giving with commitment, respect, and genuine concern for meeting individual needs.