EHS’s Own Rock Star: Mr. Skoglund


Mr. Skoglund stands outside EHS

Anna Hoppe, Editor

Ben Skoglund, formerly one of Essex High School’s counselors, became the new Director of School Counseling this past summer. The Hive interviewed him at the end of last school year and this fall about his path to EHS, his interests outside of school, and his new position. 

The Hive: So how long have you been working in Essex High School?

Skoglund: I started here in the fall of 2015.

The Hive: What did you do before coming here?

Skoglund: I was a school counselor at U-32 [a high school] in East Montpelier. And then before that, I was a school counselor at Berlin High School in Berlin, New Hampshire. So I think this is my 17th or 18th year as a school counselor.

The Hive: If you weren’t a school counselor, what would you be doing?

Skoglund: If I wasn’t a school counselor? A rock star.

The Hive: What’s something you’ve learned as a counselor?

Skoglund: how important [the] high school years are and how young people just have this flood of information coming at them all the time. And trying to help [students] navigate their way through that… I’ve learned that deep down people are good.

The Hive: What’s your advice to both incoming ninth graders and outgoing 12th graders?

Skoglund: to incoming ninth graders? It sounds cliche, get involved with as much as you can at the school. I think you just have a better experience and make it your own. And with that, don’t take on so much that you’re losing sleep… it’s all about balance… to the outgoing 12th graders, depending on whatever you’re doing on this next part of your journey, remember that the left lane is for passing. And the right lane is for traveling. And if you’re just traveling along, stay on the left lane.

The Hive: Where did you grow up?

Skoglund: My father was in the newspaper business, so I’ve grown up all over the place. I was born in Lincoln, Illinois, but… elementary school I spent outside of Syracuse, New York, and [during] middle and high school I was in a little tiny farm town in western Massachusetts called Hatfield, [which is] like the Northampton/Amherst area.

The Hive: What’s your favorite band if you have to pick one?

Skoglund: Phish.

The Hive: What do you do in your free time?

Skoglund: Go see Phish, and I like to hang out. I’ve got three kids, so I spend a lot of time just hanging out, goofing off with my family.

The Hive: How old are your kids?

Skoglund: Twelve, eight, and five.

The Hive: What’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

Skoglund: Even though I listen to a lot of Phish, I have a soft spot in my heart for some pretty heavy metal.

The Hive: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Skoglund: I would want to go down to South Carolina to see my parents. As you get older, you don’t get to see your parents enough, and they’ve retired down there and I see them a couple of times a year. But if I could just jump on a plane right now and go see them for a little bit, that’d be awesome.

The Hive: Can you describe the role of counseling director for people who might not know what a person does?

Skoglund: Part of it is overseeing the counseling office and the six other counselors that work here, and providing them with some supervision and guidance throughout what they have to do. Also, some of the responsibilities are building the master schedule and overseeing standardized testing and AP stuff. But I think the big one is really looking out for the wellness or wellbeing of our community and… working with content leaders and teachers and students and faculty and staff and other administrators and other stakeholders in the community to make sure that we are providing like a safe place for the young people in our school to feel good about themselves.

The Hive: What’s one of the ways that work to ensure student wellbeing can take shape?

Skoglund: We talk a lot about our recently passed board equity policy. And so with every decision that kind of comes through the counseling office, [we ask] is that good for kids? Is it good for students? And is that good for all kids? And if not, then we really have to question why we’re doing it.

The Hive: Why do you want to take on this new position?

Skoglund: That’s a great question that I don’t have a solid answer for… I really love Essex High School, and I really love our department, and when the position presented itself, again, I’ve been doing this for 17 or 18 years, [I decided to apply]. And I think that as the Director of School Counseling, I have an opportunity to… have a greater impact on change than I do as a school counselor, or different change… [As a counselor] I think I work[ed] with more students, but at an administrative level, maybe making sure that we’re making choices as a school that are equitable for everybody and that is good for all kids instead of just the 200 and something that I work[ed] with.

The Hive: What parts of the new position are you looking forward to the most and the least?

Skoglund: I wouldn’t have applied for it if I wasn’t looking forward to pretty much all of it. I think that helping advocate for the school counselors and stepping up to advocate for school counseling and counseling services in our community that’s something I’m passionate about, really excited about. The thing that I’m least excited about is the smaller caseload. So I will have less contact, less one-on-one contact, with students. The reason that I started doing this work was like, I love students, and so that is going to be hard… But I wouldn’t want to do the job if I didn’t get to work with students here. So I’m excited about still getting into it, but bummed that it’s going to be a smaller number.

The Hive: Do you think that interacting with students regularly will help you in your administrative duties?

Skoglund: Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons that I want to do the job here… I don’t think it’d be possible to be the Director of School Counseling and not be aware of current trends that are going on with young people. And also with college searches and mental health stuff and social emotional learning, it would be very easy to get lost in paperwork and not know what’s going on, and so I wouldn’t want to do it if I didn’t get to interact with students.

The Hive: What unique skills or perspectives do you bring to the position?

Skoglund: I have a pretty even approach. I don’t get stressed out very often. And so I think that will be helpful and I think I’m a good listener, so I can sit back and hear all the perspectives before offering my vision.

The Hive: Are there any changes you’re planning to make?

Skoglund: Maybe, but they might be small ones, like internally, nothing major. There’s just little day-to-day stuff that I think or feel like that we could do differently, or that we could, you know, just change to make an easier workflow for the counselors, which in turn I think… [makes a] better experience for the students. 

The Hive: Is there anything that you want to tell students about yourself or your new role?

Skoglund: My door’s always open. So if you have questions, come in and see me.


After Skoglund had a few months to settle into his role, The Hive followed up through email to see if any of his answers would be different now.

The Hive: How has your perspective on your position changed, now that you’ve had more time in the role?

Skoglund: I don’t think my perspective on the role has changed.  There are some other administrative responsibilities that are now also a part of the role, and I’m working on a good balance.

The Hive: Have your goals for the position changed?

Skoglund: My goals remain the same. 

The Hive: Have your favorite or least favorite aspects of the position changed?

Skoglund: I think my favorite aspect of the position is still meeting with students.  That will never change.

The Hive: What have you learned over the past couple months?

Skoglund: Over the last few months I’d say what I’ve learned the most is the inner-workings of PowerSchool — thanks to Mike Meier.