Wolves Welcome Class of 2021 Counselor

Desiree Pico, Co-Editor in Chief

On August 21, 2017, TERRA welcomed the new school year, which brought some unfamiliar faces into the Wolfpack. Joining as one of the ten new staff members is Ms. Veritza Kostovski, affectionately called Ms. K, who is the Class of 2021’s sponsor and school counselor.

With her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and master’s degree in school counseling from Florida International University, Ms. K has functioned in various roles in schools across Miami-Dade County. She has worked as a teacher at Lawrence Academy, a family coordinator at Mavericks High School, and school counselor at Palm Glades Academy. Most recently, she was at Southwood Middle School for three years as a counselor. Ms. K was drawn to TERRA because it would allow her to share with students what she is most passionate about: talking to them about college options after graduation. “I really love being able to help students figure out their futures and talking to students about postsecondary options, which I didn’t get to do a lot of as a middle school counselor. [TERRA] really interested me a lot because the students at this school are so college-driven,” she says.

However, according to Ms. K, this much-admired attribute of TERRA students is also what makes counseling them most challenging. Wolves constantly strive for perfection and often do not know how to react when faced with an obstacle, academic or otherwise. “I want to tell them it’s okay to make mistakes and fail sometimes, and that as long as you’ve tried your hardest and learned from that experience, then you will do better next time,” she says.  

One of the many transitions Ms. K faced was going from an environment where everyone knew her to where nobody knew her. “What I like the most is making connections with the students. At Southwood, on the first day, everybody knew who I was…but here, nobody knew me. It was kind of lonely,” laughs Ms. K, “but I’ve been going into the classrooms a lot and talking to the students, and I think they’re getting to know me a little bit better.”

Ms. K visited the freshmen classrooms to give the students information on graduation requirements and to introduce herself, playing some little ice-breaker games with the group. Freshman Tatyana Freyre says, “My favorite part was when we played the ice breaker game with the ball. When I caught the ball, I had to answer what I do when I am afraid, so I told her that I get frustrated and freak out. She said, ‘Well, next time you’re feeling afraid, don’t freak out. Just come talk to me, and I’ll help you with whatever it is you may be afraid of,’ and it made me feel a lot better.”

Joseph Hernandez, another student who has gotten to know her through her trips to classrooms, says that she is very knowledgeable. “I think Ms. K is a really nice person and knows a lot about the topics she talks to us about. She is very helpful,” he says.

Her passions also extend beyond helping students through difficult situations and discussing college; she is very interested in animal rights and causes. When Ms. K is not functioning as the counselor, she enjoys donating to animal charities. “If students want to bring me food,” she laughs, “it has to be Vegan. If they ever bring me coffee, it has to be with soy milk.”

Another thing many students think, or may have thought, is that Ms. K is extremely young. She attributes her youthful appearance to her radiating energy, positivity, and smiles. Although she did not want to disclose her exact age, she says that she “is not as young as you think” she is.

Overall, she found her first days at TERRA to be “very smooth,” despite the technical difficulties with the P.A. system. “It was so surprising because it was so calm. At other schools, the first few weeks are very hectic,” says Ms. K. She especially appreciated the warm welcome given to her by the other counselors, who have been “more than helpful.”

Ms. K loves the role she plays in “empowering students with the coping skills and tools to handle situations that are going to be frustrating.” She finds that the most rewarding aspect of her job is “seeing the kids using those coping skills and seeing them transition from not knowing what to do in a situation to using all of their tools and resources to be successful.” She wants to remain at TERRA to continue this service for as long as possible.

This counselor, who describes herself  as “compassionate,” “altruistic,” and “motivated,” seeks to further her education, and is currently enrolled in a doctoral program for educational leadership at FIU. While serving TERRA, Ms. K aims to make a lasting impact on students. “My main goal at TERRA is for the students to reach their goals and become who they want to be. I want them, when they leave here, to remember the lessons about just being who you are, having patience with yourself, and forgiving yourself for making mistakes and learning from those experiences.”

Click here to follow Ms. K on Twitter!