Mr. Slocum, a well known and loved guidance counselor here at Lenape, will be retiring after winter break of the 2018-2019 school year. Before he takes his leave, I caught up with him for a short interview.
Q: How long have you worked as a guidance counselor at Lenape High School?
A: 26 and a half years as a Lenape guidance counselor, and I was a teacher at a Catholic school for 12 years before that.
Q: What was the most important lesson that you learned from your experience as a high school guidance counselor?
A: Each student is unique and you really need to listen to each person. And I try, really, to do that. I try to really listen.
Q: What do you think you’ll miss the most about this job after retirement?
A: Everything. I love this job. I don’t think I’ve had a bad day, really. Students most of all, but really all the people: the teachers, the other guidance counselors, the staff. It’s really good community.
Q: What’s a the most important piece of advice you’d offer the new guidance counselor? How about for your students?
A: To be ready for the student that comes in that maybe is annoying to others or maybe is not the best student, but really needs you. Be ready to give 100%. I always remember that when they walk in. There are students who are great students who come in to ask about college, which, don’t get me wrong, is great. But that student who isn’t, that’s the person that really needs you. That’s why you’re there.
Q: Do you have any plans for your retirement?
A: Initially, no. I might do some private counseling, because I have a license. And I hope to be able to travel. But initially, no. I’ll take some time to prioritize what’s important.
Q: Who’s your favorite artist?
A: Neil Young.
Q: What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you at Lenape?
A: Oh, man. I should ask my colleagues (…) One time all the counselors were in the lobby (…) and there was a parent conference, and, you know, it was pretty serious. When it was over I thought she wanted a hug but she wanted, really, to whisper into my ear. And oh, man, it was so awkward. And, I’m an awkward person when it comes to these things. So awkward. And when she walked out, all the other counselors were on the floor laughing. It was a moment where you kind of had to be there.
Q: If you could be any animal in the world, what would it be and why?
A: I got to think about this one. What’s something fast? A deer maybe? I love running, but I’m not fast. So I’d want to be an animal that’s fast. A cheetah! Yeah, I’d be a cheetah.
Q: What’s the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery for a million dollars?
A: You know, I’ve thought about this. Even though I myself don’t play the lottery. But I do believe that money doesn’t necessarily make you happier or anything, and I feel pretty happy right now anyways (…) I wouldn’t want to waste it so I’d give it away somehow; find some creative ways to give it away in a meaningful way (…) I think a lot of money can control you; you don’t really need crazy amounts.
We wish you a happy retirement, Mr. Slocum! Thank you for all that you’ve done for Lenape High School. You will be missed!