• August 25, 2019

‘Dedicated’ counselor helps Ector students navigate through middle school - Odessa American: ECISD

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‘Dedicated’ counselor helps Ector students navigate through middle school

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Posted: Friday, July 19, 2019 5:58 pm

Ector College Prep Success Academy counselor Lynette Salinas always wanted to work in education. She was one of those children who played school and now she’s helping students at her campus navigate through the in-district charter.

Having completed 24 years with Ector County Independent School District, including eight at Ector, Salinas handles part of the seventh graders at Ector and all of eighth grade to help them make their way to high school.

Salinas was recently recognized for her dedication with the Counselor of the Year Award from ECISD.

After attending Odessa College for two years, Salinas earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Angelo State University and a master’s in educational counseling from the University of Texas Permian Basin.

As a student at Odessa High School, she was No. 7 in her class, but never saw a guidance counselor.

“I think that was because I was so academically driven, but no one knew that I didn’t how to go to college,” Salinas said.

An older sister had attended Odessa College and filled out a federal financial aid form, so Salinas copied that, but other than that, didn’t have much guidance.

“I did I always wanted to be a teacher. I used to play school and once I was a teacher I was not in a hurry to be out of the classroom. I just knew I wanted a master’s degree and didn’t want to be a principal. That I knew, so I went into counseling,” Salinas said.

In high school, everyone assumed she knew how to apply for college and scholarships. Now she wants to ensure that all Ector students know their options.

Salinas is the only Spanish speaking counselor on campus, so even though she’s assigned part of seventh and all of eighth grades, she’ll speak to whoever comes by.

She added that it’s really humbling to win Counselor of the Year. Along with her day-to-day responsibilities, Salinas provides counseling for teachers and helps with Saturday school where students come to make up their work.

“I just do my job. I just do what I’m supposed to do and it’s not to be recognized …,” she said.

Classified as professional support, Salinas said that’s how she sees her role.

“I’m here to support the administrators, the teachers, the students, their parents,” Salinas said.

Because she grew up in South Odessa, Salinas may not know the students’ families, but she can make the connections.

“… My parents still live in this neighborhood,” Salinas said. When she lets students know she’s from the same place they are, they can be somewhat skeptical.

In the end, Salinas said she is there for the students. Essentially, she said, her motto is to influence her environment the best way she can.

“… And if there’s a teacher who is stressed, helping her out helps the kids, right?” she said.

Bolstering teachers helps everyone remember why they are there and why they teach. If a teacher brings up their faith, Salinas will tell them teaching is like a ministry.

“… It’s not easy to do, but we show up every day and we do it,” Salinas said. “But ultimately that influences the entire environment which influences the students and their classroom.”

She also tries to help parents while maintaining confidentiality and offering some advice if they feel they have nowhere else to turn. If a parent tells her about a crisis a student is going through, Salinas will tell their teachers to look out for them and maybe give them some extra TLC that day.

Sometimes a parent will tell her that their child isn’t listening at all and the child has had their privileges taken away. Salinas said she has suggested rewarding the child for doing something good by giving them back an hour of computer time, for example.  

Changing to a more structured in-district charter has changed the culture at Ector, she said.

“We’re really implementing ways to praise kids and recognize kids for their hard work, or for their good attitudes and things like that. I think that’s helped the whole culture because everyone’s getting recognized. Everyone’s earning something and it kind of pulls the kids who are making poor choices into like, ‘Oh my gosh! I want to have free dress. These kids would do anything for a free dress pass, or to get to wear jeans one day with an Ector T-shirt … and that costs the school nothing. You’ve earned free dress, or you’ve earned a jean pass so it kind of pulls these kids into trying that as well,” Salinas said.  

Salinas and her husband, Gorge, have two boys. Lucas will be a senior at OHS and Marcos will be a freshman in the fall.

Ector Principal Charles Quintela said Salinas is the epitome of a hard-working, dedicated, strong lead counselor.

“She puts her all and her heart into her work and her selflessness can be seen by all,” Quintela said in a text message. “She invests all of her time and energy into the best interests of the students and the overall success of our campus. Mrs. Salinas is essential for the daily operations at Ector College Prep.”

“I am thankful for all she has done for us and her continued commitment to our campus. I truly believe Mrs. Salinas has a great future ahead of her, and that is evident in her current work. To me, Mrs. Salinas’ commitment can best be described with the following quote: ‘Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do,’ Pele,” Quintela said.

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