“I don’t know about you, but I want educated kids in charge of our future!” Guarding children as a precious resource for the future is an over-used but rarely acted on notion that Marco Island Academy’s counselor Deborah Eby wants to make real for her students.
Eby is a native of New York State and earned her Master’s in Counselor’s Education in 2002 from SUNY Brockport. Although she and her husband have grown children, it was the toddler they lost at age three to a heart condition who left Eby with the legacy of making sure other children make the most of life’s opportunities.
“For as long as I work with these kids, I’m their advocate,” says Eby, who, in addition to her MA, is a nationally certified counselor and has Florida K-12 certification. She will shepherd her students through personal as well as career and educational issues, and cites the downturn in the economy and bullying as two big stressors for teens as a group.
Although Eby began her career working with special needs students, she says all kids are increasingly in need of help understanding social norms. “From age 12 on, kids today need help understanding how to present themselves well to peers as well as adults. They are under tremendous pressure to grow up fast.” That pressure leads to discouragement instead of excellence in many cases. “It’s ‘be the best,’ instead of teaching kids, ‘do your best,” says Eby.
Like so many of the charter school’s faculty, Eby cites the opportunity to shape a new educational environment as a special perk. “To be in on the ground floor is not an opportunity you often get in education.” She’s currently meeting with incoming students and parents and has been impressed by the proactive attitude she’s seen in her future students. “I’ve been blown away. Many of these kids have come forward on their own initiative because they want to focus on academics.”
The area outside Rochester where Eby is from suffered from serious brain drain when IBM and Kodak went into decline and smart young people moved away in droves. She hopes to find community resources that will inspire kids to invest in their community and not just aspire to flee. “Let’s get young people involved here so that they stay here. What could be better than being proud of where you are from?”