Jim Fisher
Jim Fisher

VAN WERT – When Vantage school counselor Jim Fisher broke into education as an automotive engineer instructor, he never realized that he would someday be known as a school counselor.

Fisher grew up in the Detroit area, and received an education at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Although he was employed in a lucrative position, he began to realize the priority of being on the road in sales much of the time versus missing time with his children, who were one and three at the time.

“I started to realize I was missing the kids growing up,” observed Fisher. “My wife and I talked. We knew of a flower shop up for sale in Delphos. I gave up a six figure income to run the flower shop. I had been in a high management position so I knew how to manage the shop.

“I could do a lot of work at night and spend a lot more time with the kids,” continued Fisher. “In the meantime I started subbing in Delphos. I felt that I wanted to do something to help kids so I got a Masters Degree at the University of Dayton.”

Fisher noted that he grew up in a family with nine children, but there was also a lot of tragedy among his siblings. One baby sibling died shortly after birth. Another one of the kids died of leukemia at age 16. His sister died at age 40. But the thing that prompted him the most to go into counseling was when he lost two brothers to suicide.

“As I watched kids walk into school every morning, I wondered what their lives were really like behind the scenes. I wanted to let them know that there is hope in life, that they didn’t have to commit suicide. I wanted to help them find God’s leading and purpose in their lives,” said Fisher.

“I never saw myself as a counselor,” continued Fisher. “I pray every day for students that God will send to me that day. I pray for wisdom for anyone I’m going to talk with. I love it when I see kids that people give up on who leave here (Vantage) and turn out to be absolutely successful.”

As a counselor at Vantage, Fisher is in charge of all kids, not just a select few. He stressed that there has been a major change in counseling philosophy these days. Students in the middle used to be neglected, he said.

“I am in charge of all students, keeping track of their grades, if there are any classes they are having a difficult handling and guiding them into the work force,” said Fisher. “I support their efforts and their journey to college. I help them seek scholarships and financial aid.

“We have a lot of kids with potential who struggle, whose home life may not be the best,” continued Fisher. “One of the most difficult parts is helping them believe in themselves, help them discover the light bulb within and take them to the place where they can see it come on.”