Sunday Profile: Feeling a calling, Sopris Elementary counselor Megan Rentz is ready for the first day of school
Sopris Elementary School Counselor Megan Rentz has three words tattooed on her wrist: “So it goes.”
The quote that appears repeatedly in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Slaughterhouse-Five” following instances of death, pays tribute to Rentz’s freshman high school English teacher Tom Horton, who died of alcoholism in 2003.
“He is the one who taught us that every story that we read was someone’s point of view from a different point in time,” Rentz said. “I decided to become a counselor because I wanted to invest in children’s lives the way that Tom Horton had invested in mine.”
THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING
Born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina where “Forrest Gump” was filmed, the 31-year-old southerner at heart traded in her hometown’s picturesque oak trees swathed in Spanish moss for Colorado’s snow-covered slopes.
“I fell in love with Colorado and it was a lifelong dream to move out here and become a snowboard instructor,” Rentz said. “I felt the mountains calling.”
That lifelong dream became a reality in 2015 when Rentz relocated to the Roaring Fork Valley to teach her favorite winter sport. However, following over a year and a half of seasonal work, the snowboard instructor missed her true calling — working with children.
Rentz, who holds two graduate degrees, previously served as a community mental health professional in north Georgia.
“I felt myself being called back to working with kids,” Rentz said. “Their hearts are still so open and that’s what stuck with me.”
AN OPEN DOOR
Now in her fourth year working as a school counselor, Rentz was all smiles as she prepared for the over 400 students that will file through Sopris Elementary School’s hallways Monday morning.
“My bulletin board this year is very simple, it’s a mirror that says, ‘you belong here,’” Rentz said. “I want to help the new students coming in understand that even though they don’t know what all Sopris is about quite yet, that they are welcome here and that we can’t wait to have them.”
Rentz recalled her own first year at Sopris Elementary, in particular, the time she had to correct a teacher about her role as the school’s counselor.
The well-intentioned teacher threatened to send a student to Rentz, but for the wrong reason.
“I’m not here to correct students. I’m not here to discipline them. I am here to give them a safe place to talk and to figure things out,” Rentz said. “Some of my favorite moments are when kids just know to come to my office. They know where to go. They’ll come knock on the door and say, ‘Ms. Megan, I knew I needed to come here.’
“It’s just a really powerful way to let the kids know that conversation and communication matters, even from a young age.”
A MAGICAL PLACE
Rentz described Sopris Elementary School as a magical place and considered its administrators, teachers and students family.
According to Rentz, the elementary school experienced zero teacher turnover this year and even added two new Pre-K teachers.
“It’s like coming home to family,” Rentz said. “The hearts that we have on this staff…I just feel lucky to work here.”
With the start of a new school year, Rentz looked down at her wrist and remembered her high school English teacher’s own devotion to his students.
“Even though we lose people, they’re still in our lives,” Rentz said. “And, his impact on my life reaches 400 kids a day.”
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