An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Serena Swanson, Upper School counselor

I remember when I learned that Michelle Obama had addressed the American School Counselor Association Conference in 2014, advocating for a better school counselor to student ratio (the national average at the time was 482:1) and when she began recognizing school counselors of the year. It meant a lot to me that she had spotlighted school counselors as having an important role in helping students access their dreams by doing work with students to remove barriers. She considered school counselors as key players in her Reach Higher program, which works to increase access to higher education. It also meant a lot that she, as a Black first lady was advocating for access to higher education for all. She shared with the American School Counselor Association that her school counselor in high school told her that she was not Princeton material. She applied anyway and got in. 

I feel privileged to be at Lakeside and to be able to focus on mental health in my work. Throughout my past work in public schools, I did academic, career, and personal counseling. I love the mission of helping students identify their strengths, celebrate, and express their personal identity, remove barriers to dreams, and consider a future of possibility. 

We, as your school counselors, also want to be clear about our stance: We acknowledge the historical oppression and continued oppression in our country and in our community of Black students. We believe in the Black students at Lakeside, in their dreams and in their futures, and will continue to work together with our community to identify societal barriers to belonging in our current community and to each student’s desired futures.

Reach Upper School counselors Serena Swanson and Meredith Sjoberg and Middle School counselor Michael Matsumoto at Learn more about Lakeside's work to create an equitable and inclusive community on the Our Work Together dashboard.