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New Faces in Deaf High School

Ali Marchetta and Missy Kaler, new school counselors in the Deaf High School, share how they came to their new positions at FSDB, the services they provide, and the importance of career skills and training in the 21st-century workplace. They can be found in their shared office/counseling space on the second floor of Pope Hall, amid college fliers, cozy couches, and Marchetta’s colorful paintings.

How did you come up with your “Dragon Counseling Squad” name?

We were trying to come up with a “brand” so students could easily identify us. We quickly realized that it wasn’t just the previous counselor who was providing support to the students in DHS. There’s a whole squad! We wanted to make sure that our collaboration with them was evident even in our new positions.

Neither of you is new to FSDB, how did you get from there to here?

We both were previously FSDB classroom teachers. Ali taught elementary 4th-grade students, while Missy taught mostly middle school students with a few years at the elementary level. We both have a desire to support students and seeing them become successful, kind, and motivated individuals after leaving FSDB - our passion for counseling led to our current positions!

What services do you provide for Deaf High School students?

Any kind of support service you can think about! Monitoring academics for patterns in grades, weekly check-ins with students who might be struggling, assisting with scheduling and scheduling changes, assisting with testing and training teachers, one-on-one counseling, group counseling based on the needs of the school, and on-the-go problem solving for students who have immediate needs. Our work also involves monitoring in-class support via observation and small groups, teaching life-skills groups to older students getting ready for graduation, sharing college scholarship and relevant information for seniors, planning college day for seniors and various class-focused days. These activities are designed to serve as a constant reminder for students as they move through such an exciting time in their lives. We could keep going, but you get the idea. We’re everywhere!

What are some of the challenges facing today’s youth in the 21st-century workplace?

Experience. Some workplaces require experience even for entry-level jobs. Also, careers take time to develop in a world where requirements are substantial. We’re so thankful to have the technical education program here on campus where students can take classes learning basic hands-on skills right here on campus, which can then transfer to off-campus work for class credit. Work experiences are the perfect resume-builders for students looking to begin working immediately or who need a part-time job while they’re in school. Students can earn college credits via dual enrollment while they are in high school to give them that head start they need for college! We also offer study hall for students who must meet online class experience for graduation. Having these experiences are great ways ay to prepare students for college or work after leaving FSDB.

How can parents help prepare their students for these challenges?

Be open and honest with your children. Share your college and work experiences with them. Be a part of their process - whether it’s applying for college or applying for a job. Of course, we’re here to support them through the same processes, but we can never replace you as a parent. Your involvement and support will motivate them, which in turn makes our jobs that much more fun. We’re happy to help in any way we can!

By Christi Boortz, Instructional Services


About FSDB

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904-827-2212 voice or 904-201-4527 videophone. For more information, visit


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