August 6, 2013
Einstein High School guidance counselor Joe Monte is congratulated at the MCPS retirement ceremony. He has worked for MCPS for 51 years.
Counselor Joe Monte has been walking through the same front doors at Einstein High School every day for 51 years.
But soon, he will be walking out … and not returning.
Monte was hired in 1962 to teach Latin and to run the foreign language department at Einstein, which had just opened. Two years later, he was asked to become a school counselor and to head up the counseling department. And he’s been there ever since. In at 6:30 a.m. and back home after 5 p.m. (sometimes, as late as 11 p.m.) These days, he comes bringing doughnuts on Mondays, bagels on Wednesdays, and pudding cake on Fridays.
He estimates that he has written 7,000 student recommendation letters for college, and has helped countless students with an array of challenges, academic and otherwise. Over the years, he served as president of the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded the Montgomery County Federation of Teachers, and was a founding member of the American Federation of Teachers.
He acknowledges that American society and the college admissions process have changed a lot in the time since he started. But students haven’t changed all that much. “If a kid thinks you love them and care about them, the rapport increases tremendously. … Counseling is extremely demanding if you wish to connect with students.” He has always worked hard to get to know students on a personal level and that his role is to find the positive in them and to help them move forward.
He said he is retiring because Mary Catherine, his wife of 50 years and a former teacher herself, asked him to for their 50th wedding anniversary, coming up on June 22.
“She said ‘You’re going to give me one gift. You’re going to retire.’ I said ‘OK’ immediately.”
When asked if he would have done it without her request, he responded, “No. I wasn’t thinking about it. I would have been carried out of here.” Monte says his wife is one of the reasons he’s been successful. They will celebrate their anniversary on June 22 by going back to the church where they were married and enjoying a lunch with their five children and nine grandchildren.
“I’m a glass half full kind of guy,’ he says. “I’ve had a really good life in that I have the capacity to enjoy life. At the prom, I think I was the only senior citizen to get on the floor with the kids.”
Even in retirement, Monte expects that he will still assist students and parents who ask for his help. “With college counseling, it’s difficult for me to go a week without someone coming to my doorstep.”