Mrs. Gould, Student Assistance Counselor, Announces Retirement


Gia Shin, Co-Editor-in-Chief

It’s no secret that issues including social media usage, vaping, and cyberbullying surged stronger than ever after the pandemic. Fortunately, we have counselors like Mrs. Janet Gould, who has been dealing with these issues head-on for the past 26 years. Unfortunately, she announced her retirement this year.

Gould has taken on many roles during her time at Tenafly High School, some of which include the Student Assistance Counselor/Substance Abuse Coordinator (SAC), Senior Peers program teacher, and Anti-Bullying Specialist. In other words, Gould worked with “anything that has to do with drugs and alcohol,” she said. Mrs. Gould provided services at both the individual level and the larger community level: she spoke with students who came back positive from drug tests and coached staff on various drug and substance abuse-related training. “What inspired me to become a SAC was that there were a lot of people that I knew who were touched by drugs or alcohol in their lives,” she said.

However, not all of these roles existed when she first started working at Tenafly. Gould originally thought that her position would strictly revolve around drug and alcohol abuse, but her position has since grown to cover many aspects of adolescent issues. She credited the expansion of her role to her background in psychology and family therapy, as she had earned her MA in psychology at Montclair State University. “I could do everything: I could counsel kids, but I could also deal with drugs and alcohol,” she said. After she earned her family therapy certificate, Gould went on to earn a certificate in substance abuse.

Another surprise for Gould was her interest in working with adolescents, as she had not imagined herself doing so earlier in her professional career. She wanted to work with adults as a therapist; however, her friend suggested to her that she work in a school system as Gould was thinking about starting a family. “I think [working with] adolescents [has] been better because at least I can have an effect on them before they become adults,” she said. Gould feels that her involvement in the Peer leadership program and SAC allowed her to interact with a number of students and motivate them to make good decisions.

Gould’s role at the high school has become increasingly important as a result of the pandemic; Gould said that she noticed more Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) cases reported over the past year than ever before. As the Anti-Bullying Specialist, it is her responsibility to interview the alleged victim and perpetrator, and report the issue from an unbiased angle. The role was established in 2011 from the Anti-Bullying Rights Act—a law that was passed at the state-level. “Personally, I think that there has been a meanness that has seeped into our society for kids to say what they want to say,” she said. “I feel that when you can’t see somebody face-to-face, you are much more likely to say things that are not kind because you’re not seeing a [physical] reaction. Also the pandemic has created a lot of isolation, anger, and loneliness, so people kind of deal with it online than in person.” When Gould was first stepping into her role as the Anti-Bullying Specialist, she found some moments particularly stressful: “It wasn’t really what I went to school for,” she said. “So in the end, you have to be a judge and jury for a case where you have to interview with a non-biased attitude. And that’s what I do. [But] I’m glad they made it a counselor [position] because I could talk to kids afterwards about their emotions.”

Gould has long appreciated how perceptive and open Tenafly High School students are: “I’ve always loved Tenafly students—they are highly motivated, they are willing to do so much, they are very involved with their community for the most part,” she said. “When I read through some of the essays about what kids have gone through and why they want to become a peer leader, it just touches me. It’s very emotional.” 

Some of her favorite memories at Tenafly High School include the annual Olympics, HSA holiday luncheons, and senior Peers retreats that used to be held at Frost Valley. “This has to be about 20 years ago, when three boys [asked to light a fire outside] and asked us to dress in togas,” she said. “That was a big thing then, and it was just so much fun.” 

Outside of work, Mrs. Gould enjoys working out, especially through Zumba. She used to bring her Peers students to Zumba class. She also loves to travel with her husband; they have been to Russia and China, and plan to go to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam later this year. Mrs. Gould hopes to take a few months for herself to determine what she hopes to do in the future.

Overall, Gould expressed how much she will miss working at Tenafly High School. “My colleagues have been phenomenal, I love working with them—some of them have basically become my family,” she said. Gould also appreciates THS alumni who come back to thank her or ask her for extra resources. “I must say that I’ve always loved working with this community; it’s never, ever been a bad day for me here.”