Familiar face takes on expanded guidance and counseling role

Taylor Roy

Taylor Roy has always considered herself someone with a desire to help others and understand how they’re feeling.

She’s getting a chance to put those skills to work as executive director of guidance, counseling and wellness for Ector County ISD.

This is her 10th year in education starting off as a classroom teacher. All of her counseling experience has been in ECISD at Bowie Middle School, Buice and Cameron elementary schools.

“It was somewhat odd for me to think about myself in a leadership role,” Roy said. “The role of a leader is often quite different than the role of a counselor. However, I feel that my skills in guidance and counseling have helped me to slow down and analyze situations that we’re in, provide appropriate emotional responses to the higher stress situations that we face as counselors, but also to advocate for counselors in a way that might be a little bit different than other leaders and not just for counselors, but the entire wellness department in ECISD.”

In her position, she oversees the Community Outreach Center that has all the social workers, and the nursing department.

“With this new role, I hope to use my expertise in mental health to help provide some of these wraparound services to our families, our community and our students so that they can be successful in school and outside of school,” Roy said.

There are a lot of hidden components to the administrative side of counseling.

“We have a great crisis response protocol for when there are tragedies on campus such as a student or teacher death. … There’s a lot of prep that goes into helping counselors to be successful and helping to manage a lot of that information so that they can effectively respond to difficult situations (and) have the tools that they need in academic areas so they can advise well and help students to meet their educational and post secondary goals,” Roy said.

They have a protocol where counselors visit with students to provide support in crisis situations, but they can also call other counselors to help out.

“That’s one really huge blessing, which is having the SAS, which is Student Assistant Services counselors, because they’re mobile and we can move them where we need to at a moment’s notice for these types of crisis situations, then moving forward for all those affected,” Roy said.

This not only goes for students impacted, but anyone who witnesses it or may be affected by it.

“Crisis oftentimes is different for each person. We have to be able to provide different types of support for students and families and our staff in ECISD. That is something we try to prepare for and organize at the administrative level. But that is something, I would say, the counselors in our district do a wonderful job with is responding in these major times of need,” Roy said.

Much like education, counseling was affected by COVID.

“It’s ever-evolving and much like education was impacted by COVID-19, so has counseling and the mental health needs of our community and our students. Oftentimes, we are faced with a lot more intense mental health and coping needs of the populations of students that we serve. In my mind, we need a huge focus on mental health and support for our community to overcome a lot of the obstacles that we’re still facing after COVID,” Roy said.

After graduating from Hardin Simmons University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, she immediately became a teacher.

“I was working in my first year teaching in Lubbock and then also working online with Angelo State University to obtain my master’s degree in guidance and counseling. I returned to Angelo State to work on my administration certificate and I earned my school administration certification through Angelo State, as well,” Roy said.

She is excited about her new role as executive director of guidance, counseling and wellness. She’s also thrilled to be able to impact the district and departments she oversees in a positive and innovative way.

“I’m very excited, but I’m also very honored. I’m fairly new in education in terms of experience so to be someone put in a position like this it’s something that I am very honored to do. I feel that they have entrusted me with a large role and I am excited to take that trust and put it into action for our students and for our district because there are some needs in our community in regard to social-emotional learning and mental health concerns. I really hope to see some exciting changes coming out of our department in the upcoming months,” Roy said.

Alicia Syverson, associate superintendent of Student and School Support, said Roy brings expertise to her role that is sometimes difficult to find.

“She has been both an elementary and middle school teacher and has served as a school counselor in both elementary and secondary levels. In addition, Ms. Roy has her administrative certification. The work of building systems and processes that serve students of different age ranges in counseling and effective advising requires an understanding of the work and the ability to work across the organization with professionals who are supporting students at those different levels. The work of the campus counselor in both elementary and secondary has evolved over the years and Taylor has experienced that evolution. I am excited to have Taylor as part of our team,” Syverson said.

Roy is married to Brian Laing and they have two dogs.

“While neither of us grew up here in Odessa, we are establishing roots here. I’ve been here five years and he’s been here about 13. We’re proud Texans and excited to be here in this community. It’s something that I first had to learn to enjoy, but Odessa has really become home for me and I love the people here and the family atmosphere that we have,” Roy said.

“We have a lot of needs in our community. One thing our community does have is a strong sense of connection and family is what I’ve seen and that family is important. I’ve really enjoyed that in my personal life here in Odessa,” she added.