Counselor Spotlight: Ms. Fontalvo is Taylor Swift’s biggest fan 

Ms. Giselle Fontalvo is a licensed student counselor at Passaic Preparatory Academy. She has been a School Counselor for two years starting in January 2020. She has a Master’s degree from William Paterson University and a cat named Samira Malia Fontalvo who she rescued from her garage where it was born. She is a huge Taylor Swift Fan. 


The Boulevard Online: What’s the most inspiring experience you have received as a counselor? 

Ms. Fontalvo: There’s a few, one was when a student told me I heard you like Taylor Swift so I hope you return to school “swiftly.” Building personal connections with my students is so important to me, so when they say something like the “swiftly” saying it feels very precious. Another was one day I had a parent come up to me and said that I was very helpful and as a counselor these are awesome things to hear because it’s very easy for people to say I just sit in my office doing nothing and not knowing my day today, so these compliments really make a huge difference with me. I received a note that told me “you are one of my superheroes.” Being known as someone’s superhero is a huge compliment. Another student put me in their valedictorian speech, and at home hearing the speech, hearing my name as she said “to my counselor, Ms. Fontalvo, who assisted me with college and all my college questions, your personality shines brightly.” That was so wonderful because I just knew her for a year and a half during Covid and the fact that she felt so supported to put me in her speech when other people who were in her speech knew her longer just felt nice. 


TBO: As a counselor, what’s the most challenging thing that you have encountered? 

Ms. Fontalvo: Can’t talk about the situation but I can explain my feelings. Because of the situation I was very conflicted because on one side, it’s really nice to be able to give support to someone who’s scared and doesn’t know where to receive support, but also just sad that my student had to go through some serious challenges that we don’t want out kids or anyone to ever experience. 


TBO: Did you imagine this pursuit as where you would end up and how do you feel about that? 

Ms. Fontalvo: I had no Idea but I kinda did so it was a yes-and-no situation. I remember when I was in high school my counselor was Ms. Bertha Hannigan and I love her to death and I still call her every once in a while to say hi and one time I emailed her from my Passaic Schools email to tell her I’m a School Counselor just like you. I asked her about her job and said it seemed pretty cool and she said yeah it is cool but you need a master’s and I was like, yeah, I’m not doing that. But eventually I did in my senior year of college, I gave it a shot by interning at a School Counseling office in Passaic County and I really liked it.  I didn’t do everything I do here, but I enjoyed the environment and the change. It’s not much monotony and I still interact with students. I always knew I wanted to do something with students but I could not be a teacher. 


TBO: What other counseling things do you do?

Ms. Fontalvo: I’m also a licensed therapist, so after school hours I will do therapy. I don’t have my own clinic or practice where I see my own patients, but I am a therapist at other practices.


TBO: Do you think you have changed by becoming a counselor for young adults? 

Ms. Fontalvo: Yes, I love to say I run on anxiety. When I get anxiety it fuels me to get the task done and I think before I used to have the feelings of anxiety and would crumble or feel overwhelmed very easily. But becoming a counselor made me feel like I didn’t have to feel that way and I could channel all that energy into accomplishments. 


TBO: What’s the most memorable moment in your life? 

Ms. Fontalvo: When I graduated with my master’s degree it was really nice, but decorating my cap I did not know what to do. At the time I had always been proud of my culture but it describes how it felt for me and why it was such a proud moment. This was such an important accomplishment because it felt like everyone’s accomplishment. Realizing that Latino people only 2% have Master’s degrees, it just was such a big thing for me and it wasn’t just my accomplishment, it was everything my family did to get here and for me to walk across that stage and many of my family members in different countries watched me walk across the stage. 


TBO: What’s one thing about life you wished you knew earlier? 

Ms. Fontalvo: To just go with the flow and that it’s okay to go with the flow and we are going to quote Taylor Swift: “Never be so polite you forget your power, never wield such power you forget to be polite.” 


TBO: What’s your proudest accomplishment? 

Ms. Fontalvo: Grabbing a stray cat from my garage and keeping the cat. 


TBO: Do you think you’ve made an impact in this world? 

Ms. Fontalvo: I would hope so, I don’t think I can really say I did but I do hope so. 


TBO: What’s your favorite song and why? 

Ms. Fontalvo: Anything written by Taylor Swift because she is wonderful and I grew up with her music. 


TBO: Are you happy ? 

Ms. Fontalvo: Yes, because I have the most wonderful fiancé in the world, I have the best brother in the world who is also my best friend, I have really wonderful people I work with and consider family, I am good and have accomplished my career goals and that feels very nice. Feeling that now life is what I decide to make it now that I have accomplished my career goals. “On to my next dream,” by Taylor Swift.