From her years as the Communications Officer at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, to her career as a head volleyball coach at Madison High School in Houston, Amelia Cole has been preparing her whole life for her role as counselor at the Alternative Center for Education (ACE).
She said, “Even when I didn’t have the credentials, I’ve always been a counselor. As a coach, I had girls with issues. I knew there was something more that I could do.”
Mrs. Cole was working as a head volleyball and tennis coach at Madison High School in Houston when she decided to attend Prairie View A&M University on Saturdays to get her master’s degree to become a counselor.
Mrs. Cole said, “It felt right with my background in criminal justice. I understand. It’s not new to me. It’s interesting on a daily basis.”
Mrs. Cole has been a counselor with the school district for seven years, all of those years on the ACE campus where others say she is “firm, fair, and consistent”.
The Alternative campus is located in the Redland Area and has students of all ages who have in some sort or way disrupted the learning environment at their regular campus. Mrs. Cole’s job is to help these students continue their studies while receiving their consequences. She, along with counselors from ADAC, the DETCOG Star Program, Top Ladies of Distinction, and the Legacy Institute, gives students emotional support and coping skills in order to return back to the classroom with their peers.
She said, “There are consequences. We work very well with the home campuses to continue their course of study. I do sessions and individual services with the students. I’m the testing coordinator for all grades, the TELPAS, STAAR, EOC’s, whatever they need.”
Mrs. Cole has a love for students and encourages them to trust her.
She said, “They want someone to hear them. Learn to trust you. Build relationships. I tell teachers all the time to build relationships because it cuts down on issues in the classroom. They want to know that you can relate.”
In some ways, Mrs. Cole can relate. She came into this world fighting for her life as the first premature baby to ever be delivered at what was then Memorial Hospital. She was 2 lbs and 6 ounces.
She said, “ I was told I was small enough to fit inside a syrup bucket.”
It wasn’t long after she was born that her family moved to Chicago,
She said, “Our neighbors looked out for us. We lived in Rockwell Garden in Chicago – the West Side. Do you know where that is? It’s the projects.”
These were tough times. Mrs. Cole’s parents worked and left the children to take care of themselves during the day.
She said, “I was responsible for my three siblings. My mom gave me a home key and my brother a key. I was in third or fourth grade walking to school in snow up to our waists. I had to do it all.”
Mrs. Cole moved back to Lufkin where she attended Junior High East and Lufkin High School. She played volleyball for Coach Stifle and loved being back from the cold Chicago winters. But as chance would have it, her family moved back her senior year.
She said, “We moved my senior year back to Chicago. I was devastated. I played volleyball in Chicago. After I graduated, I came back to be with friends. I went to Tyler Junior College, graduated, and went to Houston.”
She got married, had two children, and spent fifteen years as the Communications Officer at the Harris County Sheriff’s office. Mrs. Cole worked nights which gave her time to student teach and attend college at Texas Southern where she received her degree in Human Performance. While taking classes she would take her two children with her to class. She would tell them not to talk and they would sit in the back of the class. She then began her career as head volleyball coach, her favorite sport, at Madison High School.
“It was awesome teaching. We went to the playoffs in tennis and volleyball. Some of my students received scholarships,” she said.
When she left her coaching career, her daughter followed in her footsteps and took her position as coach at Madison. During this time, Mrs. Cole remarried and moved to Lufkin because her husband had children in school. She tried to commute to Madison and made it work for four years, but decided to become a counselor and live in Lufkin.
Mrs. Cole wakes up at 5 a.m. and gets to work around 7:15 to 7:30 a.m. On morning duty she monitors the cafeteria, then school starts at 7:45 a.m. Students must be in dress code, no cell phones, food, jewelry, jackets or hoodies.
She said, “ I have a cabinet full of clothes if they need them. I want the student to feel comfortable.”
If she has a new student that day, she communicates with counselors from the student’s home campus.
Mrs. Cole said, “We work together to make sure the students’ courses match. We work very well with the home campuses. It’s never a boring day. I’m usually the last person to leave.”
When not busy with students Mrs. Cole attends plays, movies and enjoys eating at Ralph & Kacoos and shopping in Houston. She attends church where her husband is in training to be a deacon.
She said, “So I’m a deaconess in training, too.”
Mrs. Cole said her main objective is to help students graduate from Lufkin High School. She said that while students are at ACE they can get their studies done and even get ahead.
She said, “We can help if they are going through a crisis at home and help them to have a better life. We can help if someone is in pain or needs a meal or shoes. We have a number of services.”
Thank you, Mrs. Cole, for choosing Lufkin and for helping our students make good choices while building back their self-esteem and purpose. It’s evident you care for kids.