Leah (Johnson) Sutherland
Class of 1993
Major: Social Science/Education
When I was in high school I had a school counselor who was incredible. He was incredible because he always made time for me and gave me the impression that I was the most important person when I would talk to him. I decided I wanted to help people just like he did and began my pursuit at St. Bonaventure. I took a variety of education and sociology courses to assist me and one of the most memorable was an internship in a local high school counseling office. After that I went directly to a Master’s program to become a certified school counselor.
I am in my 12th year as a school counselor and cannot imagine doing anything else. I love the joy of seeing students succeed in pursuing the future they hope to have one day and helping them along the way before they get to that point.
The teenage years are certainly exciting and difficult times all rolled together. I find myself getting to know students in such a rewarding way. They trust me to come and cry about a failed relationship, what it feels like to lose a parent, or how hard it is to juggle being social, get good grades and still sleep enough at night. They share their individual talents and dreams, pictures of prom, and everything in between. I hope every kid who talks to me gets the feeling that they are the most important person.
I truly have the best career and feel so honored to be the person who gets to support kids as they make their way in the world of high school and beyond.
I took many education classes and most other students in them wanted to go into teaching. I had a course in lesson planning and I mentioned to the professor that I wanted to be a school counselor. She said right away “I have a person for you to meet” and she connected me with a counselor at Portville High School and I immediately started an internship with him. I learned so much I continued on to the next semester and it was an exceptional stepping stone to my master’s in school counseling. I will never forget that professor’s help.