Julia Walkowicz

In the past few years, many new faces have appeared at Frontier Regional High School, both students, teachers, and staff. With COVID-19 and the generally busy Redhawk atmosphere, many of these new people have gone unnoticed by those who hadn’t experienced their help. We sat down with one of the new additions to the Frontier community: School Counselor Ms. Kadden, to learn about her role at Frontier, her life, and her values. 

We found Ms. Kadden in her office, which was marked with twinkling lights, candles, and the low lull of orchestral music from her computer. Her smile was contagious and she held a half-full blue tea cup, seeming content to introduce herself. 

“My name is Sigal Kadden and I am a school counselor at Frontier!”

What has been on your mind today? 

“The weather, is that lame?” she laughed, “Just because it finally feels like it’s no longer summer, which is kinda crazy because it’s November. The vegetables I have in my garden are not doing great because of the weather, which is not surprising. And all of my seniors who applied early to college and are waiting to hear back, I’m just feeling really excited and nervous for them” 

Where did you grow up? What was your favorite part about your childhood?

“I love this question. I grew up in Olympia, Washington, so really far from here. I loved where I grew up and the community I was raised in. My favorite part of where I grew up is such a big question, I think as you get older you reflect more on your childhood and how it has influenced you. My answer at 18 would be so different from the answer I have now. I think about the environment I grew up in. The northwest is such a beautiful part of this country, the trees and the mountains are so special and I never realized how unique they were until I actually moved out to New England for college. No offense to the mountains here, but they are nothing compared to the mountains I grew up with. I was also really involved in theater as a young person, those communities just really inspired me and were really supportive places to grow up in.”

When you were in High School, What did you want to do or who did you want to be when you were older? 

“I always knew I’d be working with kids. At that point, I probably thought I’d be working with younger kids because I was still a teenager. I thought I would be a theater teacher, which I did for a couple of years in different ways, not in the traditional sense. “ 

When did this idea start to shift to what you do now? 

“That’s a bigger story. When I went to college I really focused on theater and education. I realized that the reason why I loved theater and teaching theater was that I loved building relationships with students. I thought that because I wanted to work with younger students I should be a teacher, So I taught second grade. I realized I loved working with students and their families but I really didn’t care to teach kids how to read. That wasn’t my passion, it was more the social-emotional aspect of their learning, so I taught preschool. I did that for a few years, which I loved, but it didn’t feel sustainable for my life long term and that’s when I found myself in the field of school counseling. It was a great way to support students, work with families, teachers, to give students and good school experience.” 

What has been your impression of Frontier so far?

“Frontier has exceeded my expectations.” For many of our readers, this statement may seem funny, but it was apparent that Ms. Kadden truly felt this way about our school. She continued, “I have found it to be so welcoming and such an easy community to slide right into. I think it can be a little nerve-wracking starting at a new school because you don’t know what it’s going to be like. But I have found it to be so warm, so welcoming, and overall just a really positive place to be. I thoroughly enjoy coming to work.” 

What makes Frontier different from where/when you went to high school? 

“This is probably the response most adults would give, but the use of social media is so different than it was when I was in high school. When I was in high school it was all about MYSpace and maybe Facebook was just starting. You didn’t have it during the day on your phone, because no one really had iPhones. I think that’s a big difference I notice now working with teenagers is you have your phone and you have access to all of that during the day and that certainly can impact students during the day emotionally. “

What do you like to do outside of Frontier? 

“I love to cook and bake. I often find it relaxing to go home after a long day and just cook a meal. I’ve picked up running again since I’ve started here, I try to run a couple of days a week with friends and that really helps. I have a really old dog that I like to spend time with, her name is Maddy, she is 16 years old and is the oldest lab to ever exist.”

What are your three core values? 

After much deliberation, we found a list of core values and Ms. Kadden smiled before she picked, “compassion, connection, and community”. When asked about the alliteration, she replied it was just an added plus. 

What do you want students/members of the community to know about what you do here at Frontier? 

Ms. Kaddens’s words were slow, genuine, and she smiled with each answer. It was clear that she was deeply considering what she said. “I think the role of a school counselor can feel kinda ambiguous to some people and I think it’s a field that has changed a lot over time. I want students to know that as a school counselor, my first priority is always my students. So really that can mean whatever students need it to mean. I am here to support students academically if they are struggling in a class, figuring out ways to get their homework in on time, and communicate more effectively with a teacher. I’m here to help students with the future and what they might want to do after high school, whether it’s college or finding a job. Most importantly, I’m here to support students emotionally. I think being a teenager can be really challenging and it’s okay to ask for help. Whether that’s, ‘I just need five minutes to decompress’ or ‘I’m having a really hard time right now and I need to figure out some coping strategies.” Counseler Kadden collected her thoughts before she concluded, “I just always want students to know that my door is always open and I can’t emphasize that enough. I think students often don’t realize I’m here and it’s hard to meet every single student I work with, but as a counselor my door is always open to students, there is no reason too big and no reason too small. “