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diamonds, rocks, pearls and swines

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Emma Pillsbury has held the position as McKinley High’s guidance counselor for almost five years now despite her parents’ prediction that their daughter would rather check herself into a facility than repeatedly subject herself to the germ-filled class rooms she had left behind after her own graduation.

Her income may be modest, but it covers her rent for a rather nice and nicely manageable apartment and a wardrobe that she feels comfortable in despite having heard it described as ‘prim’ and ‘old-fashioned’. The occasionally low-price food on her table is always healthy. The slot in her budget for the gloves and disinfectants – the need for which she cannot seem to get rid of – is regularly filled without straining the whole of it.

She values going to work every morning beyond the salary and the associated routine. Emma treasures talking to the kids - the young adults, she should say – or, more precisely, talking to those very few that come to her office voluntarily. She enjoys the challenge of trying to get the others to open up, persevering past all difficulties. The rare moment when a boy or girl bares his or her heart to her is the most rewarding, precious occasion she knows.

It is not a profession without trials. Most of the students don't actively show their respect for her past the requisite apprehension they tend to display when confronted with adults. The principal ignores her existence on his staff whenever he can. And while Emma counts quite a few of the teachers as her friends, she sometimes doubts that most of them fully appreciate the amount of effort and dedication she puts into her work.

Guidance Counselor Pillsbury partakes in as many vocational training sessions as she can afford time and money wise - having long since learned the futility of asking Figgins to pick up the bill - but doesn't make a spectacle of herself by exposing certificates and awards on her walls or in glass cases like some teachers she could name. Beyond the reprehensible vanity of it, the sight would only intimidate her students, which would rather defeat the purpose.

During those long hours the chair facing her desk remains empty, she tries to come up with ever new pamphlets so that the students will get the help they need as quickly and concisely and efficiently as possible without having to overcome the oftentimes insurmountable hurdle of talking to an adult. After years of her parents advocating therapy, Emma knows full well how difficult it is to listen to someone with experience and authority when you’re forced to. A pamphlet the reluctant ones can carry home and take out to read whenever they are ready.

Five years as a pedagogue have regrettably confirmed that people often are and always will be quite nasty toward each other. Adolescents who are victims of circumstances and hormones alike sometimes threaten to tear each other apart, insufficiently responsible authority figures being no real help. Emma Pillsbury is but one person. She does her best to make a difference and to join forces with those who wish to achieve the same. Hopefully, some of her charges will one day look back and remember her office as a tiny refuge of order in a chaotic world.