The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

From Student to School Counselor: Mitchell Stern Retires From West

Guidance counselor Mr. Mitch Stern in his element.

From baseball coach to student counselor, Mitchell Stern has impacted many students throughout his years here at West. He is dedicated at his job, funny and many say he has the best office. Each year, Stern has around 250 students on his caseload and has been working at Niles West for 25 years as a counselor (roughly working with 6,000-7,000 students). The end of this school year marks his last at Niles West and his first step into retirement.

Over the years, Stern has gotten to know a variety of staff members and has made some long-lasting relationships. Prior, Stern did attend high school here at West and is sad to not be walking through those same doors he walked through as a student back in the day.

32 years ago Stern interviewed for this job, and it was either between him or another candidate. Sadly, on the same day he was getting married, Stern received the news that he did not get the job.

“After finding out I didn’t get the job, I got married, went on my honeymoon and came back from my honeymoon. [When I get back home] on my answering machine there was a message from the principal saying they wanted to see me right away. I went in, something happened with the other candidate, and I got the job. I guess that might be the most memorable moment,” Stern said.

After working here for 25 years, Stern has seen a lot of change throughout the school and the rotating staff members. He got to meet many new and different staff members.

“Change is good. We’ve had a lot of change here in 32 years, just the simplest is the student population. We also now have 90 languages in the school. I think everyone has embraced that change and we are trying our hardest to make things great for all students,” Stern said. 

Counselor Stephanie Lau expresses her memories of working with Stern.

“I first met him when he was my homeroom teacher probably 1994-1995, so a long time ago. We’ve had a special relationship in terms of getting to know each other well and we often go to lunch here and there. He’s a great guy and I’m going to miss hearing his voice next door. He’s always thinking of others and is an amazing person, always having the kids’ backs. The kids know that if they have an issue, he is always going to be supportive. As a coach, I always hear conversations he has next door and he listens well to students and they take what he says to heart. He works well with the toughest kids and he is just incredible and makes sure his students succeed,” Lau said.

Not only has Stern met new staff members but he has also met students that have left an impact on him.

“[Stern] was a great counselor. I could always talk to him about issues with my schedule or life and he always responded with something nice to say or just with advice. Him leaving makes me honestly really upset because I have had him for the past three years and thought I was going to graduate with him as my counselor. No other counselor can replace Stern,” junior Alexander Yohanna said.

As Stern takes on this transition, he has some plans for his retirement that he is looking forward to.

“I’m going to be working at a golf course, to no one’s surprise, because everyone knows I love golf, and travel a little bit with my wife, hang out with my grown children, and be with my friends and family,” Stern said.

Though it is sad to see Stern leave Niles West, it is important to recognize the impact he left that will radiate within the school as an everlasting legacy.

“No one gets into this profession thinking they are going to be rich, but it’s not about the money, it’s about wanting to help students become better academically, socially, and have a bright future. That to me is the most rewarding thing, helping students grow from little freshmen to adults,” Stern said.

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    SteveMay 17, 2024 at 12:08 PM

    Nice piece.congratulations.