A circuitous route to counseling

From theatre to journalism to teaching, Mickey Folger has traveled long, winding road that led her to Mac’s door


Sarah Slaten

Ms. Folger, the new Se-Z counselor at McCallum, didn’t always plan to be a counselor, or even a teacher. For the beginning years of her life, Folger wanted to be a theatre technician. “I had this dream … [that] I was going to go to Broadway, when I was 15 years old, to be in technical theatre and to stage manage.” Though her initial dream didn’t come true, Folger said she loves her new job more than anything else she’s ever done.

Sarah Slaten, Staff Reporter

Mickey Folger has had many different and unique jobs in her life. Up until halfway through college, Folger was planning on being a theatre technician and working on Broadway. When life eventually got in the way of that dream, Folger changed course completely and began work as a copy editor on a Hearst Publication in her hometown of Midtown, Texas, where she she says had some of the best times of her life.

Despite all of these various adventures, she said she is even more excited about the next chapter in her career: working as a counselor at McCallum.

“This was the job that I wanted,” Folger said. “I’ve always loved McCallum. I loved it by proxy, because [my son] Jordan came to school here, but I also just love the history here and how the community embraces the school and just the love that is behind what it is to be a Knight.”

Although Folger loves teaching, she never planned on being a teacher. Throughout middle school, high school and college, Folger was planning on going to Broadway and being a theatre technician; in fact, Folger believes that she would’ve been a technical theatre major at McCallum if she had had the opportunity. During high school, she designed light schemes for her community theater in Midtown, having an invaluable experience.

“This was the job I always wanted. This was the job I coveted, being here. I’ve always loved McCallum. ”

— Mickey Folger

“I had a really great mentor,” she said. “I mean, I was only 17, so I couldn’t do it by myself, or I couldn’t do it by myself and not screw it up and make sure to best use the lights. So I had a really great mentor who taught me the best use of light, like which gels to use and which colors to use where when you’re trying to set the mood, so that was really cool experience.”

But after college, life got in the way of her dreams of going to Broadway. She fell in love, got married and had kids. But, once her oldest son started going to school, Folger wanted to start working again. She still wanted to be available for her kids and play the classic PTA-mom role, but she also wanted to be doing something.

“My cousin, the head copy editor at this newspaper, had a desk open up, and she asked me if I was interested,” Folger said. “I said yes, even though I didn’t know anything about anything. The jobs I had had up to that point were secretarial positions, I didn’t know how to do this. So she trained me; I was tabula rasa. She trained me from the ground up.”

Folger had had a blast when she worked on her college newspaper, and this job was no different. Though she wasn’t paid a lot and had low hourly rates, she she says she still had some of the best times of her life being a journalist. Her favorite work, a story that she did at Hearst, was a story for the entertainment section while the primary entertainment journalist was away covering another story.

“There was a play going on at the Museum of the Southwest, and [the entertainment journalist] didn’t have anyone to cover it, and she knew that I had a theatre background, … so I went and covered this story. And I would say that that’s the favorite thing I ever did. I wrote the article; it was put on the front page of the entertainment section; I took the pictures. So yeah, that was probably the best article or section that I wrote in regard to that.”

“I know that sometimes as a teenager, it feels like the adults around you don’t hear that voice, and I think that’s why I’m super stoked about being a counselor at McCallum. Because I want to hear what you have to say. That’s what I’m here for. ”

— Mickey Folger

Folger thoroughly enjoyed her time working as a journalist, but, as in college, life managed to get in the way again. She divorced her husband and had to support her kids. She knew she needed to start doing something different. So she decided on teaching.

“Newspaper is like the foundation of what made me move into English and language arts and teaching in the first place,” she said. “I still find myself using some of my AP Style tricks and stuff that I used to proof pages.”

Folger went to Angelo State University to get her degree, and has been working in teaching for the past 16 years. She worked at Anderson, Eastside Memorial and most recently at Lamar as a reading specialist up until last year, when she realized that her life was leading her into another direction again.

“I was doing some work at Lamar that required a lot of counselor-y type skills, so I thought, you know what, I really think I would love to work with students in that capacity,” Folger said. “I started to feel myself pull away from the classroom a little bit, but I didn’t want to leave public education, because this is my jam, this is what I’m good at. I love it, and my life has brought me to this place, so I just decided to hit up Arizona State University [for further education].”

Folger worked at Lamar by day and worked on her second master’s degree by night online. When she was done, she sent her resume around AISD looking for counselor jobs. When principal Mike Garrison got back to her with an offer, Folger was ecstatic.

“My favorite part about teaching, the reason that I stay in public education is you guys. It’s being able to work with kids.”

— Mickey Folger

“Mr. Garrison said, ‘You’ve been a part of our community, our vertical team; we would love to work with you.’ And I was like–you have no idea,” she said.

Folger’s oldest son went to McCallum, so she had already been involved at McCallum for years, and she says she already knew how much she loved the school and how much she would absolutely love to work here. She says she loved the culture, and the community and everything about it.

“I was in New York City a couple of years ago, walking down the streets of lower Manhattan, and I heard someone talking about McCallum High School in Austin, Texas, and I turned around and said, ‘Go Knights!’ and they were like, ‘Yeah!’ And it was this huge thing in New York City,” she said. “So this school has a reputation.”

Though Folger knows that working with high school students is going to be a new challenge, she’s excited. She knows that having a teenager at home doesn’t exactly make her qualified to completely understand teens, but she’s still excited to work with students that she can be honest with, and, more importantly, use sarcasm with.

“[High school] is pretty different [from middle school],” she explained. “It’s your perspective mostly, like you understand if I use a little bit of sarcasm, that I’m not cutting you off at the knees and trying to be cruel, while a younger student may not totally understand that. … You guys just have so much to say. You have such big voices, and I know that sometimes as a teenager, it feels like the adults around you don’t hear that voice, and I think that’s why I’m super stoked about being a counselor at McCallum. Because I want to hear what you have to say. That’s what I’m here for.”

Though it may seem idealistic, Folger says she really does really want to listen and help. Helping is what she’s passionate about, and why she loves teaching so much.

“My favorite part about teaching, the reason that I stay in public education is, I mean–it’s you guys,” Folger said. “It’s being able to work with kids. I’ve come from a lot of different backgrounds; most of the schools I’ve been in have been low-socioeconomic schools, so working with kids that come from a different background with a different upbringing really helped me to mature as a human and helped me to understand what genuine, authentic human care and concern for another person who’s not like me, what that really looks like.”