Pope Embraces New Role As Counselor

Veteran ends 25 years in the English classroom


Delaney Crowder, Staff reporter

Ever since the pandemic, teacher shortages increased while other teachers have taught new classes or changed positions. 

This is the case for beloved teacher Bettina Pope. After teaching 25 years of English and African American literature, Pope has now been assigned as a school counselor, which is a completely different experience for her.

“As a teacher, I came into contact with approximately 100-120 kids a year, where I now have 400 students on my caseload, so that gives me more opportunity to have a greater impact,” Pope said. 

A new position will undoubtedly bring new challenges. However, Pope is excited to incorporate her years of teaching experience into stepping into this role. 

“I think just having that 25 years of experience of working with students who have their individual needs,” Pope said. “Their individual desires, like their individual learning, helps me in this role because I can help them reach their goals because this role is so individualistic so that I can hear your needs and your concerns.” 

What she misses the most about teaching is the structure it provides. 

“It’s a different challenge every day, and of course, that can happen in a classroom as well, but at least in a classroom, you have less in class. You have a curriculum. It’s much more structured,” Pope said. 

After moving on from such an important part of her life, there are bound to be specific aspects from the classes she misses. 

“I miss the pieces that I taught,” Pope said, “I was really attached to those. I think they’re important and for African American Lit especially. I just feel like it was a nontraditional course that allowed students to engage in difficult conversations in a safe place, and in a way that isn’t very common in schools anymore.” 

A welcome adjustment from teacher to counselor is that there are fewer papers to grade, but not everything is as easy to get used to.

“Good, bad, ugly, or indifferent: whatever is happening in a classroom at the end of 90 minutes a bell was going to ring, and it would be done, and you moved on to the next class,” Pope said.

Counseling requires an adaptable schedule.

“Here a situation can last from five minutes or five hours. You have a calendar, you have a schedule, you have a to-do list, and all of that can be thrown out of the window.” 

The differing schedule is not the only thing Pope has had to adjust to. Sometimes it is the students. 

“You’d be surprised at the number of students who say ‘oh I didn’t hear back from you!’ ‘Really? Because I emailed you last week,’” Pope said. “That’s how we communicate now, so if you don’t check your emails you miss so much important information.” 

The miscommunication between counselors and students can be extremely frustrating to both parties, but Pope said so much can be solved from checking the email or at least deleting the spam. 

Now that Pope has transitioned to counseling, she has wisdom to pass on to peers in her previous position as a teacher. 

“Have fun, listen, pivot, and be sure to connect whatever piece you’re doing. Make it relevant, make it relevant to your students, to the students to their lives, to current events,” Pope said. Pope was able to impact thousands of students through her years of teaching by following simple, but important advice she was given and has passed on as well. 

“The greatest advice that was ever given to me as an educator is meet students where they are. Not where you think they should be, but where they are. Take their hand and join the journey from there,” Pope said.

Though students may miss Pope, it is important to know that Pope is still here and has much to love about the school and its community. 

“I just love the community feel. For me that’s part of being at Wake Forest High School is the community feel of the school and the support of the Wake Forest community for the school.”