From Teacher to School Counselor: 8 Questions With Andrea Burston

8 QUESTIONS is a new series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there.

Ready to make a change? Learn more about transitioning from teacher to school counselor.

1. What’s your name, location and career path?

I am Andrea J. Burston, a professional school counselor in Raleigh, NC.

2. Where did you earn your teaching certification(s), and where did you go to school?

I earned a BS in Business Education from North Carolina A&T State University (Aggie Pride). This was a teacher education program.

3. How long have you been a teacher?

I taught high school business courses for five years.

4. What was the most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher? What about classroom teaching did you find most challenging?

I loved being able to teach, model and interact with such great, fun and bright students. I taught a computer class and every year at least one student would say “I already know everything about computers” but by the end of class they would say “I learned so much from this class.”

What I found challenging were the constant changes in the demands of

5. Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to your current education track?

I liked working with students but wanted to do something outside of the classroom. By chance, on the first staff day back from summer break, I sat with one of the school counselors and asked her about her role and responsibilities at school and instantly became interested. I applied for graduate school for school counseling the following semester.

6. What is the best part of your new path?

There are so many things that make my job “the best”! I enjoy being an important part of my school community and making lasting impressions with the work that I do with students, staff and parents.

7. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that will enable you to excel in your new profession?

Being a classroom teacher, I can empathize with how teachers feel during critical times throughout the school year, such as parent conferences, report cards, lesson plans all at once because I’ve been there!

I also feel that my classroom experience helped me to gain an outstanding rapport with students, staff, and parents.

8. What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?

By all means go for it! I was a little apprehensive being out of the classroom and expected daily routine that I knew forward and backwards to a day with a lot of unexpected but more than enough to keep you busy. A good busy though. Being outside of the classroom still connects me with students (even more than when I was a teacher) and that part I absolutely enjoy!

Andrea Burston is a former high school teacher turned elementary school counselor. She is the school counselor for Wake County Public Schools and works at JY Joyner IB Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina. Andrea is a blogger on jyjcounselor blog where she shares her career experiences as well as tips and ideas with school counselors from all over the world. She loves using technology and is always looking for new and innovative ways to integrate technology into her counseling program. Andrea has also presented at conferences and workshops on using technology in counseling programs.