New counseling director outlines goals, plans

Watko notes challenge of making transition during shutdown


Cathedran file photo

Director of counseling Mrs. Gretchen Watko ’00 provided suggestions to seniors for finishing the year on a positive note.

Nya Nuff, Reporter

The school has experienced several changes during the second semester, one which included Mrs. Gretchen Watko ’00 being named the director of counseling.

Watko graduated from Cathedral in 2000 and said the school has always felt like family to her. When she was a student, she said her favorite tradition was the TPing the Hill. She said, “We as a class would organize it ourselves. She said the drive up the Hill on the first day of school with all the toilet paper in trees “gives you chills” and adds to the community feel, which is she said is special to her.

After graduating, she attended Butler University and majored in journalism. She said that it took her a while to figure out what she wanted to do professionally. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, she ventured into real estate and then worked in her father’s mortuary business. There is where she realized she “enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with family and people.”

Once she recognized it was time for a career change, she applied for a position as assistant director of enrollment management at her alma mater. Current director of counseling Mr. Duane Emery was the director of enrollment at the time and accepted her application. Watko said it felt like everything “came full circle,” as Emery was her senior counselor. She said she wanted continue to help families and decided to get her master’s degree in counseling from Butler.

“The timing was perfect,” she said, because the school also had open spots in the counseling department at the time. To be even more perfect, Watko was accepted into her master’s program and got the job the same week, which also happened to be the week of her birthday.

Watko said she loves working at her alma mater, saying that the school was very much how she remembered it as a student. “There is never a day where I wake up and don’t want to go to work,” she said.

There is never a day where I wake up and don’t want to go to work.”

— Mrs. Gretchen Watko '00

She said she loves all of the members of the Cathedral family, from the teachers and students to the coaches, but especially the educators who are still here from the time that she was a student. She said the only factor that has really changed is the quality of education and how much she has seen it grow and improve.

As a school counselor, COVID-19 has affected her job on many different levels. Watko has deemed working through quarantine “challenging, but rewarding,” because even though her day now involves even more emails, she still has the capability to help and meet with parents and students.

The pandemic has also changed the way she was going to deal her job transition. Not being able to meet in person takes away the counseling department’s in-service meetings to review the highlights and challenges of the school year and to prepare for the next. She said quarantine has made it more difficult to take full command of her new responsibilities and to manage her time between the two positions.

Regarding her new role, she said she is passionate about “building and implementing a true counseling program,” which will continue the work the department is already doing but will also include new strategies.

Watko also said she is eager to work with her team because they all possess a similar vision on what the counseling center should provide. In her new role, she said she enjoys working with the administrative team, including Interim Vice Principal Mr. Mark Matthews and Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel.

When she’s not spending time on the Hill, Watko said she enjoys being physically active, including running, doing yoga, completing home projects and going to a lake over the summer. She said she enjoys spending time in her busy home with her children and playing games with them as well.