Brooke Libby – Adventures in College Counseling
Faculty Spotlight: Brooke Libby P ’17, ’19, ’21 – Director of College Counseling
The click of high heels on tile is an almost universal symbol at Gould that Brooke Libby, Director of College Counseling, is on the way. Though she is known for dressing to impress today, she holds close a memory of her very first year here when she was sent home for being out of dress code.
When she arrived in 1998 as the spouse of new English teacher, Dave Bean, she was pregnant with her first child, Zoe ’17. Hungry, and in need of some lunch, she ventured to the dining hall in jeans.“Back then, you had to be in dress code no matter what. Mac Davis pulled me aside and told me I had to go change out of my jeans. Maybe Mac talking to me was the catalyst.”
Brooke spent her first five years at Gould literally growing her family. Zoe was born in January, and Lilo ’19 and Utah ’21 followed. Soon after Utah was born, there was a big shift in the College Counseling program.
“Bonnie Pooley had been doing it by herself while teaching four English courses.” Near the end of Bonnie’s tenure, Kathy Kunkle was brought on board in a conscious choice to dedicate more resources and more people to the program. Gould also hired Kirk Daulerio, who had experience on the college admissions side, as director. “My first year in College Counseling I worked part time, running all the testing and managing a small caseload. I really used that time to get my feet wet. Kirk was a great confidence booster, always encouraging me.” It was a dream team, with Kathy and Kirk serving as Brooke’s lasting and “true mentors.”
College Counseling was new territory for Brooke. While she certainly had the necessary skills to do the job, she needed to develop field-specific expertise.
“For a while, I went to every conference I could. I collected as much information possible and in the meantime built up my professional network.”
Brooke also pursued some unconventional professional development.
“I asked admissions directors if I could sit in on their admissions committees. I ended up being a fly on the wall at MIT, Holy Cross, Wheaton, and Kenyon during sessions of their admissions committees.”
Just a few years after dipping her toes in, Brooke was hired as Director of the College Counseling Center in the 2008-2009 school year. Since becoming director, Brooke has revolutionized the College Counseling curriculum – designing resume and grade specific workshops, supporting the Career Conversations series, evolving College Awareness Day, developing workshops for parents and families, as well as revitalizing the school profile.
In 2013, Brooke came to an important realization: “I’m a professional now, not a newbie.” She was asked to be a faculty mentor for the NEACAC (New England Association for College Admission Counseling) Rising Leaders Colloquium. This opportunity gave her the chance to zoom out from focusing just on Gould’s program and look at programs elsewhere. In 2014, Brooke was named NEACAC Professional of the Year and in 2016, she led the high school portion of the Fitzwilliam Conference.
In 2017, Brooke’s initiation into the world of College Counseling has finally come full circle. This year, she went through the process as a parent for the first time.
“It was a great experience to be on the receiving end and not the production end. It was cool to know my child had a great mentor in Carrie Lynch.”
After developing so many programs for parents and families, did she take her own advice? Mostly. “I took the advice of taking her on tours. We went to a variety of schools in a variety of locations. We really tried to listen to her about what she liked and what she was getting excited about.” Brooke is also known for her liberal use of red pen but in this case she “really took a back seat on the essay and the application.”
Whether about the college process or social justice issues, Brooke says, “the best part about raising kids is that they take up what you say and take it even further. Now our kids are at the point where they push back on us a little and keep us thinking. They’re pulling me along in their wake.”
Brooke Libby Q & A
High School: Pequannock Township High School (Pequannock, NJ)
College/Grad School: Yale University (undergrad) Tufts (grad)
Raising a beautiful, boisterous family with Dave Bean — those four humans are my everything.
Last book I read: Rule of the Bone (Russell Banks)
My soundtrack is: Anything Jay Z
Movie I would recommend: The World According to Garp (but first, read the book)
Favorite food: Sonoran-style stacked red enchiladas with a fat egg on top.
One word that describes me: Nasty!
Best advice I ever received: She was warned. Nevertheless, she persisted.
A number of years ago, I was offered a job at another school. It was a good opportunity for me and my family. But as I looked around and met the students there, I became less and less interested. That sounds terrible, I know. But our students are smart, real, optimistic, gritty kids who know how to put their backs into it. They aren’t fully formed “little professionals,” but real and aspiring and hopeful. I love them. They make all the hard work, difficult conversations, and long hours worth it.
What’s the last thing you crossed off your bucket list?
Poaching the perfect egg. After many years of trying, I finally figured it out. Poached eggs are more important than you think.