November 24, 2017

Media Matters: Dana Plunkett – a worldly woman changing the lives of many

By Haley Wexelblatt ‘20 and Leo Tracey ‘21, Media Matters Writers

The following article is a part of a new installment at The Bradford, where students from Media Matters, WHS’ introductory journalism course, write on various topics pertaining to Wellesley and the world.

Conversing with older peers and being with younger children surrounding her, Ms. Dana Plunkett would never have expected to go down a career path leading her to work with adolescents. As a teenager, she wasn’t interested in the emotions of the younger children but now she oversees an entire Guidance department, improving and helping children’s educational and emotional conflicts every day.

This year, Plunkett took the role as the head of guidance at Wellesley High School. Living in Sudbury for twenty years after receiving her undergraduate degree in psychology, she prepared for individual therapy, where she would prepare to become a college admissions counselor.

“I didn’t meet that amazing guidance counselor and say, ‘Oh, I want to have that job.’ That would be too easy,” she said after being asked who inspired her career choice. Although no one specifically mentored her, she always knew that she would have a job that involved working with people because she thought “it would be very cool to talk to people for a living,” she said.

In addition, a single experience did not prompt her desire to help children but rather a job she acquired at a private special education school for emotionally disturbed kids changed her view of life. Plunkett never encountered a life-changing experience from an astounding mentor, or pressure from peers that paved her pathway from college to counseling. “Never in a million years would I have guessed I would have taken that job,” Plunkett said. Initially, she had no interest in working with teenagers, but she ended up taking the job and “falling in love with the age population.”

Aside from her career, she stated that travel held an important role in her life. “I love to travel. Any place, anywhere, anytime. If it’s a free vacation, I’ve got a ticket in my hand.” Plunkett loves exploring new places and learning about new cultures. “The place where I’m going to next because it’s somewhere different,” she said.

Furthermore, throughout her experience at Needham, she created a leadership class for kids with untapped potential. She developed a class called, “Be the Change” with a former assistant principal. “We didn’t orient the class towards the class president, or the captain of the football team because they were already in leadership positions, but it was for the students who didn’t hold leadership positions, and had the tremendous capacity to do so.”

Plunkett did not see herself as a head guidance counselor, but she has excelled at the position and made students’ lives better every day. Although Plunkett can offer a lot to students, she ultimately wants to “help kids realize that they have choices and a level of independence at that age.”

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