Meet Patty Montague

Patty Montague
Director of Counseling
Marist School (GA)

How did you become the director of counseling at Marist School?
I was hired at Marist in 2007 as a counselor, which included both the personal/academic role and the college counseling role. In 2010, we moved to a model that defined the roles of our counselors as either personal/academic counselors or college counselors, but we are all still in the same office and work collaboratively. In 2013, when the previous director moved to another job, I was offered the job as Director of Counseling Services. I feel very fortunate to be in this role for such a wonderful school.

What made you decide to get into this field?
I was a high school math teacher who was also tasked with teaching a test prep course at my prior school, Valwood, in Valdosta, GA. Concurrently, my oldest son was going through the college search and application process. When the college counselor at that school decided to leave, I was offered the position of college counselor. Thankfully, I was able to attend several professional development opportunities offered by Southern ACAC my first year, and had wonderful mentors in the field at the start, particularly NACAC Past President Nancy Beane and Bob Spatig, who helped me understand college admission, invited me to various meetings and events in Georgia, and were a wealth of knowledge for additional resources. I also realized how important it was for me to understand the social/ emotional aspects of a student’s decision, so I went back to school to earn a Master’s in School Counseling, which has helped me be better at my job.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Every year, there is a new set of students planning for their futures. Over the course of two years, I really enjoy getting to know my counselees, helping them with their college search, application, and decision process, celebrating their good news, listening when they receive bad news, and watching them walk across the stage at graduation ready for that next chapter of their lives. 

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
I have had so many wonderful experiences and met so many wonderful people with NACAC, both members of the organization and the wonderful people who work at NACAC. I started by attending the national conferences, and later attended the government relations and advocacy conferences. Then I looked for other ways to be involved – I was fortunate to be selected to serve on the Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee, have had the opportunity to share NACAC resources with counselors at Essential trainings, and have served on the Atlanta National College Fair committee for several years. I use the Knowledge Center to find resources that have been shared by colleagues to make my job easier, and I find the research and news that NACAC produces every year to be invaluable for our parent communications. 

You’ve been a supporter of the Imagine Fund. Why do you choose to give to NACAC’s fund?
I am privileged to be in a school that can support my participation in NACAC professional development opportunities, but I realize that most high school counselors are not so fortunate. I hope my annual donation, along with the donations from others allows NACAC to send many of these professionals to various programs so that they can form professional connections and realize all the benefits of membership in the organization.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
My husband and I have 3 perfect grandchildren (as my husband says, it isn’t bragging if it’s true!) with whom we enjoy spending time. I also have parents in California and visit them often. On a smaller note, I occasionally sew in my free time – often for those wonderful grandkids.

Describe yourself in five words.
Privileged, ever-evolving, Christian, hopeful, and outgoing.

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