Open doors

District hires new college counselor for the first time since 2019-2020 school year

New+College%2C+Career+and+Millitary+Readiness+Counselor%2C+Sarah+Thrash%2C+poses+for+a+picture.+Lovejoy+hasnt+had+a+CCMR+counselor+for+three+years.

Caroline Dolberry

New College, Career and Millitary Readiness Counselor, Sarah Thrash, poses for a picture. Lovejoy hasn’t had a CCMR counselor for three years.

“Where do I start?” Inside the right corner office of the counselor suite, students, sitting in front of a white pillow, seek guidance for their life after high school. Sarah Thrash hands them a college checklist and walks them through the process of transcripts and the self reporting tool, SRAR (Self-Reported Academic Record). She not only helps students with college in their sights, but students who plan to join the military and trade schools with her connections. 

Thrash is the new College, Career and Military Readiness Counselor (CCMR). The school hasn’t had a CCMR counselor for three years after “the rift” occurred and the school had to cut jobs because of lack of finances. Last year, the school only had two counselors: Natalie Coonrod and Carrie Robbins.

“Our parents really wanted there to be somebody on staff that can answer these questions,” Coonrod said. “Most importantly, it’s what our students needed. We could have split four ways and had four alpha counselors, but we would have still been in the same situation. I’m trying to take care of the seniors while trying to serve everybody else. I think bringing it back is because our community really wanted it [and] our parents wanted it. It really does serve our kids very well.”

Thrash doesn’t have part of the alphabet, so her job focuses on the CCMR part of all the students’ needs. She is figuring out the new programs, including the Naviance platform.

“I feel like I have learned what I’m truly passionate about, and it is the CCMR component,” Thrash said. “Over the past four years, I’ve had an opportunity to dive deep into the whole application process, even the recruitment process for the military, [and] reaching out to different trade schools to help those students that are looking for that pathway.” 

Before Thrash became a counselor, she was at home in Hillsboro with her baby when she decided to study education, so she enrolled at Navarro College at Hill College. She took classes through A&M commerce at the same time. There were times she was taking 24 hours a semester. Then she worked toward her Masters at Amberton University in Garland after her second year of teaching.

“I knew my entire life I wanted to be a teacher,” Thrash said. “I didn’t really play house. I played school, and of course, I was always the teacher. I always knew that was a thing. My senior year of high school though I started second guessing it; I don’t know why. At that point, everything I had always known I wanted to be, I no longer knew what I wanted to be. After staying home for a few years, I was like, okay, I’ve got to figure out a plan. Then again, the teaching came up, so I went back to that passion and did my teaching.”

Thrash was an eighth grade science and math teacher for a year then lead reading teacher for five years at Jackson Technology Center in Garland.

“I loved being in the classroom but just like with anything you want to move up so that was the direction that I took,” Thrash said. “I wanted to be able to make a different impact on the students and going into administration wasn’t something that I wanted to do. Counseling was a way for me to get out of the classroom but still be impactful for our students.”

Thrash has her own website to help students with the college process, called CCMRwithMrs.Thrash.

“I’m here to help y’all however I can,” Thrash said. “I’ve already had several of you contact me for a meeting which I truly enjoy meeting with y’all one on one and walking you through the steps [and] answering the questions that you have. I know there’s a ton of questions about scholarships, we’re working on them. If you’re doing applications through Common App, it’s a beast. It is a big process, but we are working on them so please be patient. However I can help; I know that everyone has different plans and pathways and has different questions, so whatever I can do to help get you ultimately to where it is that you go after you graduate.”

This is Thrash’s seventh year in counseling. She started in Royse City for two years, then Sachse High School in Garland for four years.

“Don’t procrastinate,” Thrash said. “Senior year is going to be hitting up sooner than you think. This year is gonna fly by. Whatever you can do as far as researching the colleges, narrowing it down to your top three that you want to go to. Then start researching when are their scholarships due, what do they offer [and] when is the application [due]. Anything that you can do to prep so that when you’re ready at the beginning of summer to start doing all the things as much as you can will help you and make senior year not as stressful. Because when school starts, you’re trying to do your applications, and you’re trying to take care of your coursework. Plus, you’re trying to do your extracurriculars. Don’t procrastinate. Start early, plan ahead, make a checklist of things that you need to do and then be consistent.”

Thrash has had five to six student appointments a day, answering students questions. She spends a lot of time everyday on email, phone calls and meetings. In addition to CCMR, Thrash is in charge of the 504 and SAT and ACT accommodations. 

“She is a tech guru,” Coonrod said. “Her one stop shop one pager that she created that has all the embedded links I think is huge. She’s come in and been able to introduce that aspect to our counseling group. The resource is there. Whether a student and a parent chooses to use it is entirely up to them. She is a great resource that I hope more and more will use. We’re not afraid to be busy. That doesn’t bother us at all. Yes, we put an emphasis on our students being college ready, but whether you’re someone that’s going in to talk about trade programs, or you’re going in about [the] military. It doesn’t matter; she equally is passionate to serve the needs of whatever student it is.”

Natalie Coonrod is one of the two counselors still at the school from last year. When Coonrod is having meetings with students or parents and a question about transcripts or colleges comes up, she directs them towards Thrash. 

“I feel like the advantage students have is that those seniors have someone completely devoted to doing that for them,” Coonrod said. “It benefits our ninth through 12th graders that may not have that college question, but maybe they need to talk with us. Maybe they’re having a breakdown, maybe there’s an academic question that relates to their schedule or maybe they’re just struggling emotionally. We can serve those needs much more effectively with her taking on the aspect of the college part. ”

However I can help; I know that everyone has different plans and pathways and has different questions, so whatever I can do to help get you ultimately to where it is that you go after you graduate.”

— Sarah Thrash

Senior Laney Dawson is applying to Blinn College in Brenham, and she has an appointment set up with Thrash. 

“I really hope that she is able to direct us in the right way to find the college that best suits us, be able to find us scholarships and everything else to help us get into colleges or help with applications,” Dawson said. “The underclassmen will be able to find more scholarships that are aimed towards them. You can get scholarships from eight grade up, so they’ll be able to already start earning money.”

If a student wants to set up an appointment with Thrash or another counselor, go to the high school website to the counselor’s page where there is a place on the front page to request a meeting.

“I hope that they feel like they can do it,” Thrash said. “I hope they feel comfortable coming in to talk to me. Students always say, ‘I hate to bother you. I’m sorry to bother.’ This is what I love doing. It is not a bother to me. I hope that students will take advantage of what I can offer them and use me as much as they need. Whatever resource I can be, take advantage of me [and] use me as much as you can. Even if you’re an underclassman, whatever it is, if you have questions; however I can help the Lovejoy High School students, I’m more than happy to help.”