Inside the counseling office of Windsor High School, Dr. Felder-McEntire hosts a meeting with all the counselors, social workers, and the school psychiatrist to express her ideas on new programs the high school should begin to implement. She explains her plans thoroughly and answers questions until all the staff in the room have a look of understanding spread across their faces.
Felder-McEntire began working at Windsor High School on Oct. 15, 2018, as the Director of School Counseling. Her recent employment and unfamiliarity have made students, staff members, and parents alike curious to know more about her and how the counseling department will be affected under her new leadership. However, with her vast extent of experience and personal characteristics and values, Windsor residents should have no concerns.
Felder-McEntire was born and raised in Harlem, New York. She was very involved in her community as a child and still is to this day as a community organizer. Growing up in Harlem was very influential in her life and has molded her into who she is today. She said, “It [growing up in Harlem] impacts me in every way. The way I think, the way I see things, the way I see poverty, the way I see education, the way I see wealth. It impacts everything.”
When Felder-McEntire was in high school she went to an all-girls Catholic school in New York. She did not have the best counselor experience as a child. In her senior year, administrators of her school made her basketball coach her guidance counselor because the position needed to be filled. She liked her guidance counselor, but just did not believe she was meant to be a guidance counselor.
However, her past experience with guidance counselors was not her inspiration to become one. She got the idea to go into the counseling field during her undergraduate of college. She attended Buffalo State College where she studied business, economics, & African American studies. Her participation in a course, Counseling Psychology, is what made her realize she was destined to be a counselor because she was very talented. Felder-McEntire said, “I knew that I wanted to work with kids, and it was a course that I took that then let me know that I had a gift for working with students in a counseling role.”
Since her epiphany Felder-McEntire has earned a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University. She has been a supervisor of school counseling for 10 years, has been in the school counseling field for 15 years, and has been in the field of education for 25 years, having many different roles in the school environment.
She made the switch from being a school counselor to being a director almost a decade ago because she wanted to help school counselors to better help students. She said, “The reason why I made the switch was more to help develop school counselors to become better at their craft and to become better school counselors.”
She does have less contact with students now, but does not mind as long as the students are benefiting from it. Felder-McEntire said, “As long as the students are receiving a really good experience I am okay with it. My job right now is to make sure that the adults are doing everything in the best interest of kids and that is important to me.”
Before coming to Windsor High School Felder-McEntire had a lot of experience in other schools. She was a Director of School Counseling at New Haven Public Schools. She was also a Director of School Counseling at Eli Whitney Technical High School. In addition, she was a school counselor at Bullard-Havens Technical High School.
She came to Windsor school district because it was an opportunity that presented itself and it seemed like a good fit. She is very grateful for the position and has been enjoying her job so far. Her role at Windsor High School is to supervise counselors, social workers, and school psychiatrist at the high school and middle school level.
She believes she is a perfect fit for this job because of the many positive traits she possesses. She is kid-first so doing what is right for the students is her first priority. Mrs. Cuevas, a school counselor at the school, said, “One thing I do know is that she wants to make sure our students are our number one priority and that we meet all their academics and social and emotional needs as best as we possibly can. That is evident by our conversations and some of the programs that she wants to bring about here at Windsor High School.”
She is also driven, knowledgeable, and has a vision. Mrs. Fernald, another school counselor, says, “She has a really strong vision for ways that we can serve students better. She is pulling us all together to work on those projects to put that vision into a reality.”
She also knows what students need and tries to help the best she can at allowing their needs to be met. Furthermore, she is familiar with all systems of a school, meaning she knows the ins and outs of how a school district works.
Felder-McEntire also has many values in herself that she upholds in not only the school counselors, but the students of Windsor High School. Some of these values are honesty and commitment. She also values learning and self-reflection so she wants people to always do their best to learn and to grow from every experience they have. She said, “One thing I do not believe in is complacency. Just because you have been doing one thing the same way for so long doesn’t mean that you are doing it right.”
In the few months she has been working at the school she has already begun creating many plans to be implemented by next year. One of her goals is to improve the middle school to high school transition by offering an Electives Fair where incoming students can see all the electives the high school offers. She also wants middle school students to visit the high school more often so they can really understand the building. She also intends to improve the advisory program offered at the high school by making the lessons they teach build off each other each school year. Furthermore, she wants high school students to be able to visit a college campus at least once every year.
When describing her creative ideas in her meeting Felder-McEntire is well-received and her colleagues believe that her plans will benefit Windsor High School tremendously.