She Cares About North


| Thatcher McMorris

Mrs. Carrasco answering a question while being interviewed.

Last week we had the chance to sit down and talk with Mrs. Kaitlyn Carrasco, a new Freshman Counselor here at Norman North, who won the Rookie Teacher of the Year Award.

Thomas Richardson: How long have you been at Norman North?

Mrs. Carrasco: I’ve only been at Norman North since the start of the school year I started in July of 2021

TR: So were you helping to create the schedules for the freshmen

KC: Yeah so at the beginning of when I started was July. So we started working on all the freshmen schedules and then in that time before school starts, we worked on enrolling new students. So out of state students, kids from private schools or non-feeder schools, and anyone that moves to Norman between their eighth-grade summer and freshman year. So that’s kind of what we do in the summer. And then we kind of plan for freshman orientation. That’s something that’s pretty specific to The FRAC, I know upper-class counselors have other things that they work on like concurrent enrollment and things like that but for the freshman level, we work on really making sure that freshman orientation goes well. And we’ll work with DEN. We didn’t have our secretaries at that time. So just kind of the counselors just working with those schedules.

TR: Do you have a favorite memory from your first year here at North?

KC: I think my favorite memory so far would probably be the school musical, The SpongeBob Musical because working with freshmen, they’re not really involved in a whole lot. Or if they are there, a lot of the background people but in the musical, I actually got to see some of my students being in the production. Larry the lobster was one of our freshman students, and just getting to see students participating in things that are more than just academic is always really exciting to me. So I’d say that’s probably my favorite memory.

TR: What inspired you to become a counselor?

KC: Oh, gosh, my road to being a counselor was not very linear. So I studied political science and nonprofits in my Bachelor’s program. And I thought that I wanted to work for a nonprofit, or I work for a city government or something. One of my projects that I did was studying the nonprofit organizations in Oklahoma City that supported undocumented student populations, and in that, I was hearing kind of the need for more counselors and more advocates to help support students of different minority groups. Then I thought, “You know what, I think that might be my calling”. So I got my master’s in education counseling, back home in California but then COVID hit, and schools weren’t hiring staff. And so I thought, “Okay, I’ll go back to my original plan”. I’ll work in nonprofits. And so I worked for an after-school program, where we worked with students, getting them involved in STEM programs, getting them involved in life skills, for example, cooking, They had a bread-making class, different things like that. And in that, I got to practice also some counseling skills, like we did FAFSA workshops and different career readiness programs. Then the next school year came around and I thought, I’m gonna apply for counseling jobs, both in my hometown and in California as well as Norman, because I thought I was so familiar with the area, and then it ended up at Norman north. So that’s how I became a counselor. 

TR: So what was it like being nominated for Rookie Teacher of the Year?

KC: I was so surprised, I definitely did not expect to be nominated, let alone be a finalist. I actually nominated one of my other colleagues. I’ve gotten to know all of the new teaching staff pretty well, this school year. We meet pretty regularly once a month and so we all kind of bonded, especially in the beginning, during like homecoming, we’re like, Okay, does the staff dress up or just different, like North culture, things that that we need to learn and but yeah, I have some really great new teacher friends that I definitely think we’re also deserving. And I think that it’s very honorable that other people thought that I deserved it. 

Thomas Richardson and Jackson Synder interviewing Mrs. Carrasco. (| Thatcher McMorris)

TR: What was it like when you found out that you won the teacher of the year at North?

KC: So when I found out that I won teacher of the [Rookie] year here at North, I was actually at an IEP meeting, and then they said, here’s an announcement and I thought it was just a morning announcement. And I was just like, total shock. I was so grateful and so surprised. And I think I stayed at school until 730 that night because I was so shocked. but I also had things to do and I just kept thinking This is so crazy.  it still makes me feel so special every day that I come to work and we have the big sign I’m in the FRAC. And I think it’s just something I never expected. 

TR: Do you have any career goals 5-10 years from now?

KC: So I used to think my end goal was to be a counselor, I kept on thinking I was gonna do that forever. But I definitely could see myself maybe getting my Ph.D. in, in counseling, but for right now, I would say my 5 to 10-year plan is to be at North and to stick with the FRAC. But I think one day somehow, maybe it would be cool to do some college advising or something of that sort. But for now, I’m happy being at North.

TR: How integral Do you think the Freshman Academy is here at North, as opposed to other schools that may not have one?

KC: Yeah, so I actually interned, But to become a counselor, you need to put in at least 600 hours of interning with no pay. And so I interned 800 hours at a high school that did not have a Freshman Academy and had a very traditional setting. And I used to think wow this is so interesting that this place I’m interviewing at has a Freshman Academy, and the freshmen are like in a  sheltered program until they become upperclassmen. But I really have seen the positive impacts that this transition does for our students. I’ve even seen this semester, the difference between our freshmen that came to us in August and our freshmen that are now here in April. It’s kind of crazy how much of an impact the collaboration that we have with all of their teachers. We now have Freshmen Academy meetings, and we collaborate and we talk about the kids, and we come up with strategies and better practices and better transition plans for even next year. We also have had a leadership change with Mrs. Pennell. And she has a really strong vision for where we’re gonna go and I think, even next year and the year to come are going to be making the FRAC even better, and I’m really excited to see what more we can do to support our incoming ninth graders.