In a world filled with noise, opinions, and mixed messages, the art of listening is a challenging craft to hone. But if there is one person who has developed it to its full extent, it is our Director of School Counseling (and STA Alumna), Jill St. Laurent Mahan.
Even as a middle school student, Jill felt drawn to the mental health field. She wanted to provide support to her family and friends when they struggled and she was always their biggest cheerleader. She quickly recognized that she was the sought-after person when her friends had an issue at home, at school, or with a peer. At 11 years old, Jill decided to be a school counselor. The fact that she stuck with that plan is a testament to her determination, focus and passion.
“There are so many aspects of my job that I love...first and foremost it is the students. I have always loved children and I found my niche when I completed graduate school and began working at a local high school at the age of 25. I feel honored and grateful to be a small part of our students’ stories, to be a trusted adult in their lives, and to have an opportunity to support them as they grow and reach their goals. High school students are the best, especially at STA!”
Of her many virtues, empathy springs to mind to those who are eager to describe her. She is quick with a smile but thoughtful in her answers. She diligently upholds a person’s privacy and, in so doing, affirms their dignity. She listens with an acuity that recognizes sorrow or anxiety when another may simply hear words. These are just a few of her gifts that make her an exceptional counselor.
Perhaps more than any other attribute, school counselors must be ready to adapt to and address spontaneous issues at a moment’s notice. Jill does this remarkably well.
“I love that every day is different. School counselors wear so many hats and it is exciting to shift quickly from one moment to the next, whether collaborating with students and families on the college process, addressing a social/emotional issue, working with teachers & administrators or just listening.”
The impetus for Jill’s “can do” attitude is her family and her desire to make a difference. “I would not be where I am today if it was not for the love and support of my parents and four sisters. Through them, I have learned that love, loyalty, honesty, dedication, resiliency and hard work are necessary for a happy, balanced and successful life. My priority is providing this same strong foundation for my own two children. I also hope that I can support STA students in the same way and if I can make a difference in one life of a young adult, I am grateful.”
Olivia and Eli, her two young children, already know what we know: Jill is a Saint through and through. She exemplifies all that we love about our STA legacy. She is passionate about her job, she is intentional in her efforts, and she cares about making a difference in the world one child at a time.
She is the personified package of Saints Pride that gifts our school … day after day after day. We are blessed recipients indeed.