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Alliance Middle School Guidance Counselors Share Undergraduate Experience at Mount Union

October 22, 2009

The three guidance counselors at Alliance Middle School have more than just their profession in common – they all are Mount Union College graduatesL to R: Suzie Dennis, Rob Laskey and Sarah Rhoades.

Suzanne “Suzie” Dennis, the sixth grade guidance counselor, is a 1984 graduate of Mount Union; Rob Laskey, the eighth grade guidance counselor, is a 1998 graduate; and Sarah Rhoades, the seventh grade guidance counselor, is a 2007 graduate of the institution.

Their undergraduate degrees from Mount Union are all in different majors, but have led them into the same profession over the years.

Dennis began her college education at the University of Akron, where she had planned on pursuing a career as a paralegal.

“After two years, I realized that I didn’t like the big school setting,” said Dennis. “My father was a teacher in the Alliance City School district and graduated from Mount Union. He’s the one who encouraged me to go into this profession.”

She earned a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education in 1984 from Mount Union and has been working in the educational system ever since. Dennis’ first job was teaching at Regina Coeli and shortly thereafter she started teaching at Morgan Elementary School.  In 1989, she began teaching reading and language arts at the middle school level in Alliance.

“This year will mark my 26th year of teaching,” she said. “I love Alliance. I started my career here and I want to finish here.”

Dennis earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Ashland University in 2007. She holds a temporary license in guidance counseling and is currently pursuing a master of education degree in school counseling from the University of Akron.

 “I love working with students,” said Dennis. “I feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life.”

Just like Dennis, Laskey began his college career at another institution.

“My two sisters went to Mount Union,” said Laskey. “I wanted to be different, so I decided to attend Malone.”

Since Laskey’s sisters went to Mount Union, he had a lot of exposure to the campus. After his first year at Malone University (previously Malone College) he decided to transfer because Mount Union had the major he wanted to pursue – sport management.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree in sport management from Mount Union in 1998 and immediately started working at the YMCA in Canton, OH. Through the YMCA, he got involved with youth through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program.

The program opened a site-based program in Alliance and Laskey made connections with individuals in the Alliance City School district.
“Talking with Jan Carli (a guidance counselor) is what really got me interested,” said Laskey. “That’s when I decided to go back to school.”

While still working at the YMCA, Laskey took classes in the evening at Malone and earned a master’s degree in counseling in 2004. Laskey landed his first guidance counselor job in Geauga County and shortly thereafter he found out about a job opening in Alliance.

“I had ties to Alliance because of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program,” he said. “When I saw the opportunity for a job in the Alliance City School District, I applied.”

This is Laskey’s fourth year in the Alliance City School district – he worked from 2005 to 2007 as a guidance counselor at the high school and started working at the middle school in 2007.

Just as Laskey started at the middle school, Rhoades was finishing up her undergraduate degree. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Mount Union in 2007.

“I decided my senior year of college that I wanted to either go into consumer psychology or school counseling,” she said. “I had a friend attending Kent State University that recommended the school counseling program.”

Rhoades decided to attend graduate school immediately following graduation. She earned a master of education degree in school counseling from Kent in 2009.

“I knew there was a potential opening, so I sent in my resume,” she said. “I was inspired by the strong relationships that they (guidance counselors at Alliance Middle School) have with students.”

Rhoades has only been working at the middle school for nine weeks, but is enjoying the new position thus far.

“I really enjoy the students and the people that I work with – they’re so hardworking.”

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