By Rebecca Smith Next Step counselor Garland Willis recalled what made him go from being a high school principal to a counselor a few years ago. “Being a principal is where all my white hair came from,” he said with a laugh. “As a principal, my most...

By Rebecca Smith Every so often, a Next Step counselor will see an adolescent who is struggling with their LGBTQ identity. For these students, counseling can make the biggest difference, as they can be especially vulnerable to mental health issues. “Suicide is the third leading cause of...

Most teens don’t drink regularly. Why do so many East Texans believe the myth that they do? One of the questions we ask students during alcohol presentations is “What percentage of teens do you think drink regularly?” More often than not, students think that most of their...

By Rebecca Smith Collin Phaup has been a board member at Next Step for five years, and president of the board for two of those years. Over the last five years, Next Step has nearly tripled its budget. County coverage has doubled. Staffing has nearly doubled,...

By Rebecca Smith Keisha Lett began to notice small changes in her 15-year-old counseling client. “This was a girl who came in with high anxiety,” she said. “I would set things out for her to fidget with as we talked. She wasn’t able to express herself and...

By Rebecca Smith When Sherry Parker started at Next Step only a couple weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the schools in March 2020, she worried how she would see the students who needed her. Next Step set her and the other counselors up with video...

On his Zoom call for his interview, Marcus Wade chose a playful virtual background with hearts, pizza slices, and music notes. It featured phrases like “Not blaming yourself,” “eating the food you want,” “keeping a journal and writing down your ideas.” Fitting tips for the...

By Rebecca Smith When asked if she can share an anonymous story of a student who had made significant progress in counseling, Taylor Parker’s face lights up. “Oh my gosh, yes!” She said, clasping her hands in excitement. “I’ll give you two!” One was a second grade student...

By Rebecca Smith Leslie Moseley recalled one of her counseling clients who had many ups and downs over the course of their sessions at Nacogdoches County Juvenile Probation. The client had been to alternative school and had gotten caught with marijuana. Others might have written her off,...

By Rebecca Smith Yvonnee Tatum always knew she wanted to be a counselor. “I was the kid on the playground solving people’s problems,” she chuckled. “That was me. Other people I’ve talked to in the profession, they have the same story. Then in high school, that’s when...