Voices Changing Communities – Angela Hubbard: Leading by Listening

Angela Hubbard, Director of Student Services at West Forsyth High School, is enjoying her 24th year in the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School district. She found her career in education by listening to her heart while attending the University of South Carolina. She had considered a career in physical therapy early-on at USC but changed her major to physical education with a concentration in sports medicine after working with the football and swimming teams. She worked with local high school athletic teams as a student trainer and discovered that she enjoyed the counseling aspect of athletic training more than the medical aspect. She listened to her heart and pursued a master’s degree in counseling after graduation from USC, where she met her husband, Jeffery Hubbard, in her senior year and eventually moved to his home state of Virginia.

In 2000, Angela and her husband moved to Winston-Salem, where she joined the counseling team at RJ Reynolds High School (RJR). After two years at RJR as a student counselor, and at the youthful age of 27 years, Angela was promoted to Director of Student Counseling by Principal Stan Elrod. She listened to her heart and trusted that she was ready. “I did not have any children yet, so I just went for it!” Angela credits mentors like Mr. Elrod, a great counseling team, and active, involved parents for a wonderful five years at RJR High School. Her success led her to join Dan Piggott to help start Atkins High School. “That was the hardest I have ever worked; some days started at 8:00 am and ended at 1:00 am.” This was a busy time for Angela as she and her husband started their family with their son, Jaiden, while Angela worked overtime to start a new school.

With this leadership success at Atkins, Angela returned to school at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to pursue a doctoral degree in education, while her family continued to grow with her daughter, Zori. She continued to flex her leadership skills as the principal at Flat Rock Middle School. Her valuable time at Flat Rock taught her that pre-adolescent conversations with 10–12-year-olds were “not her jam.” She listened to her heart and transitioned to the District Office as the Director of Student Counseling, responsible for 150 K-12 counselors. This work was challenging and offered professional growth, but Angela eventually returned to high-school counseling, realizing that high school was “her jam”! As the Director of Student Counseling at West Forsyth High School, Angela helps teenagers navigate the stress and trauma that can come with high school. West Forsyth High School has 2,400 students and is the largest high school in the district. With a total of six counselors for this considerable number of students, Angela must be effective, organized, and caring.

Angela’s message for the community is a positive “Thank you” for parents who support public schools with resources and time. While high school may seem like a time for parents to step back and allow their teenagers to blossom, she urges parents to stay involved, volunteer in counseling offices or at school events, and be present in their child’s school. Angela identifies stress, anxiety, and depression as mental health concerns that impact her students. Students have had a difficult transition back to school post-Covid and it is important to know your children’s friends and ask open-ended questions about their day. Parents can also find help through programs such as the School Health Alliance that links schools with local agencies that can provide school-specific services such as short-term counseling, social work, and clinical psychology consults.

Angela models the skills and characteristics that she feels are important for successful counselors, such as compassion, empathy, flexibility, and good listening skills. She has positively influenced thousands of students, has never had a dull day and, according to her family, seems to “know everybody” at the grocery store, the mall, or the skating rink! She describes the students at West Forsyth as compassionate, prepared, respectful, mature, driven, and good-hearted. They undoubtedly exhibit characteristics they see in their Director of Counseling, Angela Hubbard.

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