Monday, January 17, 2022

Person of the Week

Mastriano Strives to Create Connections with Students as NHPS Coordinator of Counseling


After working for eight years as a guidance counselor at North Haven High School, Anthony Mastriano has taken over as coordinator of counseling for grades 6 to 12 for North Haven Public Schools. Photo courtesy of Anthony Mastriano

After working for eight years as a guidance counselor at North Haven High School, Anthony Mastriano has taken over as coordinator of counseling for grades 6 to 12 for North Haven Public Schools. (Photo courtesy of Anthony Mastriano)

Though Anthony Mastriano has always known he wanted to work in the field of education, he wasn’t sure what path he would take in his career. He graduated with a degree in psychology from Southern Connecticut State University and then earned his master’s in school counseling from Fairfield University. Nine years ago, he was hired as a guidance counselor at North Haven High School.

“It took a little while to find my niche and what works best,” says Anthony. “When you go to work every day and love what you do, it changes your life and gives you that self-fulfillment from working so closely with students and staff.”

After a few years as a guidance counselor, Anthony knew he wanted to be prepared for leadership opportunities. Two years ago, he began an online program through the University of New England, earning his certificate of advanced graduate study in advanced educational leadership.

The opportunity for a leadership role came sooner than Anthony had expected when his former supervisor’s resignation left the position of coordinator of counseling for grades 6 through 12 at North Haven Public Schools (NHPS) open. He was hired and is looking forward to a new challenge.

“I was very lucky with how it worked itself out. I knew I wanted to move forward one day and the opportunity came earlier than I’d expected it to,” says Anthony. “I’ll oversee all of the school counselors at the middle school and the high school, working in a partnership with our social workers, school psychologists, staff, and administration to provide personal social-emotional, academic, and career-focused guidance to our students.”

During his time at North Haven, he has been influenced by a number of colleagues and mentors, many of whom have become principals in NHPS’s elementary schools. Though Anthony is focusing on his new position, he admits that down the road, his “dream goal” would be to an elementary school principal.

“You never know what the journey will bring,” says Anthony. “I’ve been inspired by so many amazing leaders in our own district who have been good mentors and amazing leaders. Now I’m going to embrace this new opportunity and provide our students support and resources.”

Anthony is grateful for the collaboration that the counselors have with the teachers, which he says is one of the best things about his job next to working with the students. He is also looking forward to working with the administration, including Superintendent of Schools Patrick Stirk, Director of Student Services Jen Steward, and North Haven High School Principal Dr. Russ Dallai, on implementing changes that will provide more of a community feel.

“We have an awesome group of teachers who are very genuine and will do anything for our students—something we’ve especially seen over the past year and a half as they’re the front line in the every day work,” says Anthony. “The administration is also phenomenal and has been extremely supportive. They have empowered me to make some positive change and design a program would best fit our North Haven students. Together we’ve been creating a vision to make our program more student-centered and build a connection and a bridge with families and the community.”

Working directly with students is Anthony’s favorite part of his job as a counselor and being able to continue to do so was a factor in deciding to take on this new role. Though he will have new responsibilities, Anthony will still continue to meet with students individually and in small groups.

The NHPS guidance counselors meet with students at least two or three times a year to discuss classes and future plans. Anthony stresses that he and the other counselors aim to make students “more comfortable and confident” with post-high-school planning whether the plans include entering the workforce, technical training, college, or the military.

“Our big mission is trying to help students feel more fulfilled in their life mission and purpose, as well as having the life skills they need after high school,” says Anthony. “We want to send our students out to be successful in the world, no matter what they choose to do, and work together so they can become productive members of society. We also focus heavily on the social-emotional and allowing students to feel comfortable with who they are and express that.”

Anthony notes that incorporating social-emotional into education is one of his passions and he’s excited to see it already being implemented to help students with those skills as early as pre-K. Examples of incorporating social-emotional learning include things such as check-ins at morning meetings and deep breathing exercises.

“There are simple exercises that change the day and teach students how to deal with issues,” says Anthony. “The goal is to help create healthier, happier, self-fulfilled individuals as they grow and head into the community.”

As Anthony approaches nearly a decade with NHPS, he has certainly become ingrained in the community. He has met countless students and their families over the years and is now at the point where some of his former students have come back to work at NHPS with him as well as seeing many others find success in town, which he sees as “full-circle” moments.

In addition to being a guidance counselor for the past eight years, Anthony has also worked with NHPS’s extended school year (ESY) program for each of the last eight summers. He took over coordinating the ESY program in 2020 and this year was the first full year he has been at the helm of the program.

“The program is designed for students with IEPS and special education services,” says Anthony. “Working in the ESY program has allowed me to work with different families I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to work with.”

That work has allowed Anthony to meet even more people in the Town of North Haven, a place he hopes to one day call home. Anthony grew up in Guilford and now lives in Meriden with his partner Guy Gaudiosi, though they are hoping to move to town in the future.

“I love the small-town feel and the cool mix of individuals who make up the town, from families who are still farming to Yale professors and doctors and everything in between,” says Anthony, who enjoys the beach, gardening, traveling, and Italian cooking. “It’s just a really nice community that’s starting to see more diversity and it’s great to see that the community seems to be embracing it.”

Anthony is excited to initiate positive changes for the students in North Haven. He enjoys watching students learn to advocate for themselves as they progress through the middle school and high school.

“We want to allow students to be equipped with different tools to navigate through different things and give them a safe space where our doors are always open,” says Anthony. “The biggest thing is that I want to make sure students feel supported, are cared for, and know that they have at least one adult in the building they can turn to no matter what.”

Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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