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National Counseling Week - Fort Settlement Middle School’s lead counselor spends decades guiding young minds and supporting others

Marla Angibeau supports Fort Settlement’s seventh grade students and many more

FORT BEND ISD (Feb. 8, 2024) – Fort Settlement Middle School’s lead counselor Marla Angibeau relishes the opportunity to help those around her. Her office is warm and inviting, with a pleasant smell and a comfy couch. It is a perfect space for someone needing advice or just needing to talk.

But there’s no typical day for Angibeau. Her work in secondary counseling is split between social-emotional learning and postsecondary guidance. At the current moment, it’s course selection time in Fort Bend ISD and Angibeau may have hundreds of emails to answer from parents and students on course options. A principal may call her in to assist as they assess a student’s behavior. A parent can reach out to her to organize a conference with a teacher. And students know that they can stop by at any time for anything.

“I love this age group. These are very challenging years for the students but as a middle school counselor, I get to give guidance and help them make decisions about the present and the future,” Angibeau said.

Fort Settlement earned a Texas School to Watch distinction, for a second time in 2023, marking it as a high-performing middle school. Angibeau remarks that in addition to the usual adolescent growing pains that middle school students experience, students on her campus experience high levels of anxiety due to academic pressure and competition. They often place pressure on themselves to perform well academically and take high-school level coursework.

When necessary, Angibeau is able to tap into a network of support professionals at Fort Settlement and in the district, and she commends FBISD on the availability of mental health resources. On campus, the counselors, Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) and educational diagnostician all share a suite, and the social worker and mental health counselor assigned to their campus have space there as well.

“Middle school is like a turning point in the students’ lives. This is where I get to help my students advance and grow,” Angibeau said.

Angibeau knew as a college student at Southeastern Louisiana University that she wanted to be a school counselor, but she was surprised to learn that she needed to be a teacher first. Undeterred, and while still in her first year of teaching at Colony Bend, she began her graduate degree in counseling at Prairie View A&M University.

“I love kids and I have always wanted to work in an environment with children,” she said.

Angibeau’s entire career has been in Fort Bend ISD, where she began as a teacher at Colony Bend Elementary for three years. She moved to Lantern Lane Elementary as counselor, where she served for 11 years. When Fort Settlement Middle School opened in 2001, she moved to be a counselor there and became lead counselor in 2017.

Though she enjoyed her time working with elementary students, she enjoys being able to help middle school students process their thoughts and decisions. The time at Colony Bend and Lantern Lane was invaluable because she learned how young students think and feel. But she knows that the seeds that are planted in students during middle school years grow throughout high school and beyond. Her goal is to see students that come in as scared sixth-graders leave as confident eighth-graders.

“I want parents to know that we are uniquely trained to help support their students through these important developmental years,” Angibeau said.

“We work in collaboration with teachers, our leadership team and family members to support our students in whatever their needs are.”

Angibeau is at the point in her career where she’s seeing “grand-students,” the children of students she supported earlier in her career. And those same students are now her colleagues, like Willowridge High School counselor Trenise Duckens, a former student of hers at Lantern Lane. And yet, after nearly four decades, she still finds joy in helping others. She plans to continue doing so even after retirement, working on becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. But right now, and for as long as she’s in FBISD, she’ll be a middle school counselor.

“I help to build the confidence they need to move through  high school and beyond. I assist with social skills and career goals. I love all of it!"