Ms. Ann Castro Joins Counseling Team


Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Ann Castro

Ms. Ann Castro joined the Westwood faculty this year as the IB counselor. Her job includes helping kids with their graduation plans, as well as serving as a liaison between students and teachers, and giving students guidance and support. She also focuses on the mental health and individual needs of the student body. 

“I love that here at Westwood the focus is on mental health,” Ms. Castro said. “No matter what’s going on, whether it’s college applications or scheduling, students will be the priority. [It’s important] to be available and accessible to the students and communicating that to the kids.”

Her desire to help students was sparked in high school, with a visit from her own school counselor in one of her classes. Though she had to go through the process of becoming a teacher first, she always knew in her heart that she wanted to become a school counselor eventually.

“I got into counseling when I was in AP Psychology,” Ms.Castro said. “A counselor came in and told me about all the different things that they had to do with kids, and how [the kids] just have a different way of expressing themselves. They need a way to talk. [On the surface] it looked like everything was great. They had their mask on, they had straight A’s, they did well in school. Everything looks great on paper, but you still want to have somebody to go to.”

Uncovering these truths about her students is not always as easy as it seems – sometimes, it can be upsetting to see that there is not always a quick fix to everything. However, Ms. Castro has her methods for overcoming these difficulties.

“I wish I had a magic wand where I could make everyone’s life perfect,” Ms. Castro said. “Since you [can’t fix] some things, I think whenever you are working with a student, just meet with them, communicate with them, be there with them through their problems. [Fixing things] might not happen in our office, but there are other places and other resources out there, and a community that can help, and just that assurance that somebody’s there- it can be scary to navigate [problems] on your own.”

This combination of empathy and persistence has helped Ms. Castro greatly in her job. These traits also help fuel her love for interacting with the kids and learning about them.

“I love hearing [the kids’] stories,” Ms. Castro said. “Everyone is different, and then the individual personalities just shine through. I just love the variety of everyone, and just learning about and getting to know them.”

Though she has been working as a school counselor for 14 years, Ms. Castro is new to being an IB counselor. The experience is different, but overall a positive and exciting change.

“[I like] the mindset of IB and how it’s all global. And Westwood is very global in itself, so it just fits perfectly,” Ms. Castro said. “The rigor of the classes is different, and so is the teacher passion. You can definitely tell that the teachers love what they do, and they want their kids to learn.” 

Outside of school, Ms. Castro is an avid outdoorswoman. She loves doing anything outdoors, including hiking, swimming, and biking. In addition to those hobbies, she loves playing with her 10-month old daughter and travelling. Being around the world has greatly influenced her counseling and vice versa.

“Again, I love the global aspect of it. I love to travel, meet people, and get to know the cultures. It definitely comes with counseling, to listen,” Ms. Castro said.

As Ms. Castro makes Westwood her home, she looks forward to building a new community, helping the students, and getting to know them better.

“I’m looking forward to see everything come full circle,” Ms. Castro said. “I want to see the nerves and everything from the beginning, of the students not knowing about class of their applications, and then seeing everything come to fruition towards the end.”