Counselor Feels Blessed to Know Gifted Kids
A veteran District 214 staff member of 30 years, John Hersey High School guidance counselor Linda Kleinschmidt has worked with students identified as "academically gifted" since 1984.
Counseling kids who are chronically over-extended due to their intellectual curiosity, sense of accomplishment and drive, Kleinschmidt is the calming influence who helps them learn to prioritize and pare down their lists of "must-do" activities. These kids are typically sleep-deprived, taking all the Advance Placement courses they can manage while trying to fit in all the co-curriculars that interest them. She helps them face their hard choices, acting as a neutral observer, looking at the big picture of high school life.
As a guidance counselor, Kleinschmidt has heard it all, from the most complex problems to the most extraordinary excuses. For the gifted, life is as exciting, unexpected, funny and tragic as for anyone else. Sometimes it just seems that everything is a bit more intense for these high achievers.
Kleinschmidt's days are carefully planned with appointments and meetings, but an unexpected crisis or event can throw her schedule out the window at any time. Described by colleagues as "warm and friendly," she makes herself available to all students, creatively suggesting options in problem-solving.
According to Robert Morgan, Hersey's assistant principal for student services, Kleinschmidt challenges students to take courses that make them stretch academically and writes informative, heartfelt letters of recommendation to colleges on their behalf. She really knows her counselees and is able to give a true, comprehensive account of their abilities and potential.
"I have been truly blessed to know some of the most talented individuals and supportive families in District 214," smiles Kleinschmidt.
She has had the opportunity to meet at least two or three Hersey students who are children of '70s graduates of the school.
"Seeing a second generation of Huskies from the same family become successful young adults is an incredible experience," she says. …