New Counselors and Assistant Principals Welcomed Into Bullitt East


Shana Parrish

New counselors April Walker and Valerie Clark making their way around the school. Walker was a teacher here before becoming a counselor, but Clark is brand new. “I did my student teaching abilities, and then got hired right after out of my student teaching and taught here for eight years and then went to be a counselor at North Bullitt, because they had an opening, and then as soon as there was an opening back here. I just love the spirit of the school and the community,” Walker said.

Shana Parrish and Amy Burelison

A new beginning. 

After the departure of some of our administrative workers, there are new determined administrative workers that want to help make Bullitt East an amazing learning space for students. 

There is new staff coming into the building this year, such as administrative members including new counselors and assistant principals. There are two new counselors this year, which is Valerie Clark and returning staff member April Walker. Along with the new counselors, there are also two new assistant principals, Angela Binkley and Ondrea Smallwood. 

Clark, the newest counselor, always said she wanted to be a counselor. The reason behind it being that her sister works here and she loves the environment and culture of our school. “So I have wanted to be a counselor pretty much since I was in high school and I knew what a counselor did. My aunt was a school counselor, and I got to kind of see what she did and I really liked to help kids with kind of life, figuring out what you want to do after you leave here, and those types of things so I really like that. And you get to do several different things throughout the day so it’s never the same every single day, you know, it’s constantly changing,” Clark said, “Well, I taught at Bullitt Central for six years, and then Bullitt East had a counseling spot open and there’s not a lot of counseling openings for high school, and I definitely went to high school I love high schoolers and my sister works here so I was familiar with the school culture. You can definitely respect the cultural abilities and just how they have a way of doing things and people here like to do things the right way and be the best and I appreciate that.”

When asked about what she personally finds hard about counseling is that even when there are hard days, it’s easy for her to think about how it will get better. “Just knowing that every day is different so if you have a hard day, you’re going to have a really good day too. Even you know when you have a hard day just thinking about what the rewarding parts of your job, instead of getting stuck on kind of things that aren’t so much fun,” Clark said. Clark’s way around hardships and coping is that knowing that counseling is a draining job and hearing people’s stories and how much she wishes she could make it all go away but life sadly doesn’t work that way. “I think it’s emotionally draining, in some ways because you hear about a lot of people’s issues and you feel like there’s not a lot you can do like obviously we all want to help kids and love on kids and a lot of times you feel like your hands are tied as the adult so someone comes for you her help,” Clark said. 

Joining Clark on the counseling team will also be Walker, someone whose teaching experience piqued her interest in counseling, which teaching was the reason she wanted to get into it. “I always wanted to be a teacher, and really just like the connection with kids and wanting to be able to impact kids on a greater level, on a broader scale,” Walker said. 

She taught here for eight years and after being a counselor at North Bullitt, she saw an opportunity to work here, and, “got hired right after out of my student teaching and taught here for eight years and then went to be a counselor at North Bullitt, because they had an opening, and then as soon as there was an opening stacking. I just love the spirit of the school and the community and whatnot,” Walker said.

More often than not, some hardships and hard days find themselves on her. The way that she gets through it is that she sees that she has an effect on kids’ lives and helps kids who have tough lives, especially mentally. “Just knowing that I’m making a difference and just even a few kids. We have a lot of kids that have tough lives, and just helping them get through those and just really trying to feel like I’m a small part of making this culture of the school, one that kids want to be a part of,” Walker said. As you could imagine, being a counselor is hard but what she finds the most difficult part is kids’ faces explaining or talking about something. She also explained how she tries her best to be a support system which also helps her deal with it too. “I think really just the hardships that kids face that they talk to us about and, you know, being a support system for them and doing all we can for them.” She expressed how some kids have a lot going on and how when they go to them it can be hard to handle, “There’s also the reality that kids have to go back home to the hardships that they come to us with, and knowing that what we can do to reach, and to help those hardships is only so limited, is probably the hardest part,” Walker said.

Along with the two new counselors, there are also two new assistant principals, one of them being Binkley. She is excited to get back to some normalcy. “We’re here we’re in person so that is totally what I’ve been looking forward to is just being here in person, and watching kids get to enjoy high school, going into games, going to pep rallies, you know, trying to do the best we can, even though we might still see some of the, the pieces of the pandemic still you know we’re in masks and stuff and we still have to kind of social distance in some aspect but the fact that we’re here, that’s what I wanted to see everybody get a chance to just enjoy high school here,” said Binkley. Binkley enjoys being able to help set kids up for the future. “We kind of have a menu of options for our kids here at beliefs we really have, you know, with the fine arts programs with athletics with our CTE programs really have a chance for kids to do whatever they want to do and so that’s kind of a big thing for me,” Binkley said. 

Behind closed doors, there are many hardships that the assistant principals have to face, such as “not being able to work with the kids in a fun way, because the assistant principals have to do a lot of discipline. So it gets hard to build relationships to where that’s the person that put me in Isap for the day, and so I kind of miss that aspect of it, but it’s being with all the students is probably the most difficult part of it,” said Binkley. Even on a hard day, Binkley doesn’t let it bring her down. “There are hard days out there and we all put it in perspective and so when someone on our team has kind of had a rough day, someone else is there to kind of build us back up, and so that’s really what keeps us going,” Binkley said.

The other new assistant principal is Smallwood. Smallwood is excited to experience the events the school has to offer. “I like the opportunity to get to see our students in a different way, be able to be silly and dress up in homecoming week and just all the fun ways that we celebrate now. I have heard about Greek Games. I’m excited to experience that and see what that’s all about. Also Halloween in the Halls. I’ve heard amazing things about that but I’ve never experienced it so all those fun things that we do that are kind of separated from the regular school day,” Smallwood said. Smallwood is looking forward to building a relationship with the students here at Bullitt East. “I didn’t get as much opportunity to be around students and so I went back to school and got my administration certification so that I could take that step and be around more kids and build more positive relationships with students,” Smallwood said. 

When it comes to being an assistant principal there are some hardships that they have to face. For example, one of the challenges that Smallwood faces is “a lot of the personal things that I hear. It’s hard for me to let those go at the end of the day and like I said I just kind of want to make things better for everybody and I can’t always do that,” Smallwood said. Of course, there are going to be hard days but they find ways to look up. Smallwood looks up on the hard days by, “knowing that even though the day’s been hard. We’re still making an impact, and that at the end of the day, students need us and need that guidance and I want to be there for them, and so I just keep that in mind and try to think about what was one positive that I can take away from today,” Smallwood said.