YARMOUTH — As a school counselor, Chelsea Beckett is looking forward to providing a safe space for students to express themselves and explore their emerging identities.

Beckett, 33, graduated from Yarmouth High School in 2004 and has returned to her hometown to counsel students at Frank Harrison Middle School, which houses grades 5-8.

School starts Sept. 3 for students in grades 1-12; kindergartners will attend their first day by appointment on either Sept. 3 or 4.

Chelsea Beckett, who graduated from Yarmouth High School in 2004, is back in her hometown working as a school counselor at the middle school. Contributed

Beckett earned a bachelor’s degree in math and science at Wheelock College in Boston. After graduating she worked in college admissions for several years and it was while traveling around meeting high school students that she first thought about pursuing an earlier dream of becoming a school counselor.

She then earned a master’s degree in human development counseling at Vanderbilt University and is thrilled to be back in Yarmouth, where she hopes to form strong relationships with students so “they feel comfortable coming to me when they need support.”

“Being a school counselor was one option I considered as a kid, but I ended up working in college admissions (instead),” Beckett said this week. “After a few years of traveling to many high schools, I realized that I would love to be able to help these students from the other side of things (and) I decided to go back to school to (become) a school counselor.”

Initially, Beckett thought she’d be most interested in helping high school students navigate the college admissions process, but “during grad school, I learned so much more about what the actual role of a school counselor is. It was there that my excitement for the job grew, (along with) my understanding of just how much I could impact individual students.”

According to the American School Counselor Association, “gone are the days of school counselors sitting in their office simply handing out college applications, making schedule changes for students who want to drop a class or waiting for a crisis to occur.”

“Today’s school counselors are vital members of the education team. They help students in the areas of academic achievement and social/emotional development, ensuring today’s students become the productive, well-adjusted adults of tomorrow,” the association website says.

Beckett said she and her husband both grew up in southern Maine, but moved away for college and to pursue their early careers.

“It wasn’t until 14 years later, when we were looking for a place to settle with our kids, that we decided on Yarmouth, because Maine was such a wonderful place to grow up. We are both excited to be settling back into the community here, and the opportunity to work at the middle school in Yarmouth makes it that much better,” she said this week.

After going through a new staff orientation for two days last week, Beckett said “it sounds like the culture at the middle school is just incredible. You can tell that the administration really supports the staff, as well as the staff supporting each other and the students. I feel pumped to start the school year after attending those two days.”

She said middle school students face a myriad of issues and concerns these days, “many of which relate to the fact that there is so much pressure to fit in with your peers, all while trying to also figure out your own identity.”

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