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Barabe found his counseling niche early

Bob Barabe is retiring at the end of this school year, after 26 years in the Hudson School District as an elementary school counselor at E.P. Rock Elementary School. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl

Bob Barabe, a Mellon native, is wrapping up more than 35 years in education, 26 of them in the Hudson district as an elementary school counselor.

After graduating with a two-year degree from a teacher's college, Barabe taught for a short time at a parochial school in Port Washington.

"I found out I was doing a lot of counseling," said Barabe of his first job. "The teachers didn't have a lot of time to work with these issues and I really liked that part of it. So that is what got me going."

Barabee went back to complete his bachelor's degree, going straight on to finish his master's degree in counseling.

"I found out that UW-Oshkosh had a program so I went for it," said Barabe, who after graduation spent nine years in the Whitehall School District before coming to Hudson. When Barabe started in Hudson he was one of two elementary school counselors.

Today the district has six elementary school counselors, one for each building. They team up, meeting once a month to refine their skills and continue their education.

Barabe, as well as the other counselors, helps students develop social skills and with family change issues.

"Today, with the economy, we are looking for outside resources to help the students and their families," said Barabe. "We are more like social workers than ever before and they are a lot more dependent on counselors."

According to Barabe, children for the most part are learning more, earlier and are technologically ahead from his early days.

"Some of the students know more about computers than the staff members," said Barabe. "As far as social needs it's pretty much the same."

"We offer small free parenting classes," said Barabe, "Parents or teachers can refer students for Social Skills assistance which meets once every six days at lunch or recess."

The school also offers support groups for students in these other areas: family change, stress and school success.

"We have a gamut of needs that we meet," said Barabe. "We encourage the students to tell their parents about the discussions in the support groups but otherwise the students understand everything is confidential just like an adult group." It is the parents who sign up the kids for the support groups.

"It is better for the district to have more counselors than to have fewer," said Barabe. "We have six elementary counselors now and we have worked really hard to keep ourselves current. I am very proud to be a part of the team."

In retirement, Barabe hopes to volunteer more with the Big Ring Flyers bicycle club he belongs to and return as a school mentor. An avid collector of music from the 60s and 70s and books, he also plans to read more and continue to work crossword puzzles. He and his wife love to walk and plans include more of that.

"I will miss the kids the most," said Barabe. "Also the people I work with and all the other people in between."

Another hobby he plans to continue is bicycle racing. In 1971, Barabe purchased his first bike as a grown-up. Years later his rode in his first race. He was hooked and has been racing ever since.

"I love exercise and bicycling is low impact," said Barabe, who will be on the racing circuit again this summer. "Most of the races benefit various charities."

"I am about to start a new phase in life and I am excited about it," said Barabe.

When asked what advice he would give parents Barabe handed the reporter this on a piece of paper.

Something to think about...

"Maybe we should adjust faster; maybe we should adjust slower. But whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first. You must read to your children, hug your children, and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house."

Taken from Tom Brokaw's Book: "Boom! Talking About the 60's"