A whopping 28 years of impactful work will come to an end when adjustment counselor Deborah Guterman retires at the end of this school year.
Guterman first joined the Algonquin faculty in 1993, before her current position had even been established.
“When I got hired, we only had about 50 staff people and around 740 students, and the school was a lot smaller,” Guterman said. “There was no [adjustment counselor] role back then. My title was actually Crisis Intervention Counselor initially… Then they started to see a need [for adjustment counselors] in the early 90s.”
Over the years, Guterman has impacted thousands of struggling students by providing them with wholehearted support.
“The job has evolved into different things, but overall, it’s just about supporting students that need more support than what they would usually receive, whether it be helping somebody with anxiety or depression or sometimes substance abuse,” Guterman said.
Despite the difficulty of her job, Guterman finds that the hardships she has faced are worth it for the connections she has built with students.
“Mostly, I will miss working with the kids because like with any job you have, there are many responsibilities—some that you like, and others that you could do without,” Guterman said. “But I feel like it’s been a real privilege getting to know kids on a different level and actually developing a really meaningful relationship with students.”
Although Guterman’s work is largely confidential and behind-the-scenes, her impact on students has not gone unnoticed by colleagues.
“The lens she looks through is incredibly compassionate and thoughtful,” Director of Guidance Lisa Connery said. “She’s so consistent and reliable, and she’s such an amazing resource for some of our students who struggle the most. It’s always nice to know that she’s there providing support to those students.”
Aside from students, Guterman has also had a strong influence on her co-workers. Adjustment counselor Sarah McNulty, for example, was initially Guterman’s intern at Algonquin, then eventually became her co-worker.
“Whether I was her intern or her co-worker, Ms. Guterman was and is a guiding light in both my professional development and my personal development,” McNulty said in an interview via email. “I have yet to meet another person with such patience, empathy and a true gift for listening to people.”
Meanwhile, the gravity of her job has not stopped her from having an infectious sense of humor.
“[I will miss] her sense of humor,” school psychologist Jennifer Lipton-O’Connell said. “She’s small but feisty. She’s so funny and just the most generous person you’ll ever meet.”
“Whenever we get up in front of the faculty, she always says a joke,” Connery said. “Some of them are funny and others are lame, but we all laugh anyway. We can’t start any presentation without Mrs. Guterman making a joke.”
There were several factors in Guterman’s decision to retire, but the most significant reason was her long commute.
“I live very far away in Cape Cod right now, so I’ve been commuting for a couple years, and this was a big thing behind my decision to retire now,” Guterman said. “As much as I’d love to stay involved [in the Algonquin community], it’ll be minimal because of this commute.”
In retirement, Guterman will be continuing a job she began over the summer.
“I had a part-time summer job, and now I’ll be doing it part-time all the time,” Guterman said. “I did stuff like painting houses, landscaping, building patios and mowing lawns. It’s good because I like to be outside, and it’s just very different.”
Additionally, she looks forward to pursuing her hobbies and spending more time with her family.
“I like to play tennis a lot, and I run,” Guterman said. “I also just got two new puppies, so they’re going to need a lot of attention. Their names are Baxter and Quinn, and they’ll take up a lot of my time. I also have grandkids and kids, so it’ll be nice to spend more time with family too.”
When she officially retires, Guterman will leave a lasting impression on the school as a whole.
“Her impact is immeasurable on both her department and school-wide,” McNulty said. “She has not only been the steady hand for students, but for so many teachers and faculty as well throughout the years. There will never be another Deb Guterman here at Algonquin—she is truly one of a kind.”