Hawaiian Sunrise to Sunset: A Middle School Counselor’s Diary of a Working Day
Outskirts Press (2011)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (10/11)
Author Randall Ng is a counselor like no other in the State of Hawaii. He uses tough love on his students and makes home visits when his students are doing what they should in school. Many of the staff he works with just don’t seem to have that time to go the extra mile or really don’t want to.
His students range from highly gifted to gang members but that doesn’t stop him. Regardless if Ng is yelling at students they know he really cares about them – he doesn’t tolerate outbursts or deceiving behaviors. Often he will see the same behaviors over and over on a daily basis; back talking to teachers; threatening teachers and verbal abuse to other students.
Many of these students work two jobs, which is not uncommon today but no one is supervising these kids. One of his students, Sandi, came in to see him after the morning bell and he knew by her behavior that this was going to be a long day. Sandi thought she was pregnant and didn’t want to tell her mom. He agreed to call her mom and ask her to come in to have a conference with him. Resistant at first, Sandi’s mom agreed to come in. Her mother was not happy to be there again and one could tell it in her voice and body language. After a little persuasion, Sandi agreed to go home with her mother to talk about what they were going to do.
In addition to all his other students, Ng was in charge of the Gifted and Talented students and they had their own set of problems. This particular group of kids griped about everything and regardless of what “Mister” said or did they still didn’t get it. One of the most outstanding things he did for these students was to take them on a field trip to see kids who were physically and mentally challenged at the Waimano Home. Given that these students didn’t think there were kids like this, they were absolutely stunned when they walked into the home. But after some time, they began to mingle with the kids and didn’t want to leave.
After thirty years with the Department of Education, “Mister” Ng retired. Does he regret any moment of being a counselor? Yes and no. It was very frustrating trying to get the supplies students needed to succeed. He felt he did the best he could for his students and their families as he indicates in “Hawaiian Sunrise to Sunset: A Middle School Counselor’s Diary of a Working Day.”