Parenting is difficult in any culture, and because parenting doesn’t come with a manual, it is easy to get bogged down with second-guessing our actions. It often leaves us wondering if we are parenting effectively or even fears that we could be doing something that could damage our children.
Enter our new NIS whole school counselor, Ms. Jane Ngugi, who can help with some of those questions and fears. For example, what is Positive Parenting? How can I resolve or prevent conflicts with my teenager? How can I help my child overcome their barriers to learning? How can I limit screen time? My child seems stressed out...how can I help them?
All these great questions and more can be discussed with Ngugi on a weekly, drop-in basis online. As a part of taking on this role and making it her own, Ngugi is offering a space for parents to come and talk, get advice, and relieve some of their fears every Monday afternoon from 2:30-3:30 on Google Meet. All the information can be found in the “Announcement” section of the Parent Portal.
Ngugi might be new to NIS but not new to the counseling world. She started her academic journey at the University of Nairobi, graduating with a degree in Political Science. After graduating and thinking about possible careers, she knew she wanted to do two things - work with people and work in advocacy. When life took her to the U.S., she decided to go back to school to get an M.S. in Counseling and Guidance, sure that she would fulfill her goal of working with people. She was surprised to learn just how much advocacy work she could do in the field as well.
As a counselor, Ngugi has covered a fair amount of ground. She started with her practicum, working in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in New Jersey. Before coming to NIS, she had just wrapped up a private practice, helping people navigate the stress and anxiety of uncertainty through the first part of the global pandemic. In between, she worked for various companies and organizations, from helping physically disabled people to find quality work to helping reintegrate psychiatric patients back to society, naming just a couple.
When life took her back to Kenya, she found her passion in education as she built an entire counseling program for a school with over 2000 students from the ground up. Beyond just serving the mental well-being of her students, she went on to create workshops for parents and built a career guidance program as well.
But being the adventurous person that she is, and having a daughter already studying at university in Japan, Ngugi jumped at the opportunity to come to NIS. “Everything about NIS aligns with my passions,” explained Ngugi. “NIS takes into account the well-being of the students at the forefront of everything, creating a substantial advocacy role for me to continue here.” She relishes the opportunity to work with all stakeholders - students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
As someone whose job is to spearhead the team responsible for the personal, social, and emotional well-being of the students, her job takes her into classrooms working with teachers, meeting one-on-one with students in her office, or guiding group discussions in the iSpace. On the day we met, she was checking in with a large group of new students to make sure their transitions were going smoothly. It is safe to say that she can be found practically anywhere at any given time throughout her busy day!
But starting this new Parent Guidance check-in on Mondays is one of her passion projects. She has been keen to create a forum for parents to help connect the dots of behavioral patterns at home with learning issues at school for a more holistic approach to supporting students in their academic success. Because, after all, this will ultimately affect their future paths. NIS is fortunate to have an all-school counselor who looks at the school in its entirety while considering the overall well-being of all in our community. We are incredibly lucky to have Ngugi join us here at NIS!