Guidance for their futures

For students at Fort Dodge Senior High, when the path is unclear they find guidance.

Jennifer Freestone is one of three FDSH guidance counselors helping students toward their future and also providing a friendly ear to their problems.

This is Freestone’s second year at Fort Dodge Senior High. Last year, she served as the school’s freshman counselor and this year is one of three counselors for upperclassmen.

And she loves her job.

“Working with the students, parents and community members is my favorite part,” Freestone said. “I have a passion for this age group, I guess, and being able to support students in their academics and personal growth. We have great students here. It’s a fun job.”

Freestone is originally from Olathe, Kan., and came to Iowa to attend Drake University.

“I did my undergraduate program there, got my degree in business. Worked in that for a little bit, then back to Drake to get my counseling degree,” she said.

After graduating, Freestone did her internship in Carlisle and was then hired in Fort Dodge.

As a guidance counselor, Freestone advises students on their academics, careers and post-secondary options.

“I help them just kind of find direction and support them in achieving their own personal goals, whatever those may be, and those can be guiding them through their high school careers with their academics and scheduling and trying to find classes that will help them get to that point,” she said. “Additionally, I do individual counseling as far as personal needs of students and just helping them navigate through life.”

Freestone was also responsible at the senior high for helping students with their four-year plans, guiding them with their steps through high school and what they needed to graduate.

“This year I do a lot of the college courses and coordinate that for Fort Dodge and St. Edmond students for their early bird and post-secondary option classes for Iowa Central,” she said.

Not only college planning, Freestone also helps students with their lives.

“I do personal counseling and help them with whatever situations they might be in, connecting them to outside resources in the community, if they need that,” she said. “Working with parents, we do a lot of that, engaging them in their child’s academics and personal goals, as well.”

The students are appreciative, according to Freestone.

“They really do appreciate all the things we have to offer and the support we provide. And not just me personally, but our whole counseling department,” she said. “They’re not afraid to ask questions when they need help. I think they do appreciate what we do and it’s nice that they’re ready and willing to come and ask us for help when they need it.”

Freestone said being a counselor has been wonderful.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to build some good relationships with students,” she said. “And because I was the freshman counselor last year I had the luxury of working with some of the students for two years in a row and now that I’m with the upperclassmen I’ll have them for three years. Some of them I’ll get throughout their whole high school career. The students are awesome. I love working with them. It’s been a pleasure.”