Discovering the life of counselor Jeff Schatz

Not much is known about senior counselor Jeff Schatz. All that most people know about him is that he is often the first to school, the last to leave and constantly busy with seniors.

“He is really nice,” senior Claudia Espinola says. “He is always helping you and checking in with you to see if you need help.”

Schatz wakes up every morning at 4:50 a.m. and leaves the house by 5 a.m. He is often the first one to school. If he’s counseling seniors, it’s a race between him and attendance secretary Ann Berry to see who can get to school first.

“It’s a battle to the death,” Schatz jokes. “The loser is the one who gets here early. It’s not much of a prize to be the first one.”

Schatz now lives in Marina with his girlfriend, Lorena, and her son. Lorena is a respite worker, someone who helps families take care of children with disabilities. Her 22-year-old son, Gabriel, has autism, so Lorena stays at home to help him out.

The beloved senior counselor captured here in a rare photo.

The beloved senior counselor captured here in a rare photo.

“For us, the challenge is the constant neediness,” Schatz says. “It’s because he can’t do very much independently. He will never be able to do anything independently.”

Between dealing with rowdy and restless seniors and staying up late, Schatz still manages to make time to have date nights with his girlfriend. Schatz and Lorena have a scheduled date night two times a week, Wednesday and Saturdays. In November, for their anniversary, he received his first cell phone as a gift from his girlfriend.

Senior Naomi Takaoka says that she enjoys talking to Schatz because he always makes time for each student and cares about all of them individually.

“Whenever I go in to see him, he tries to stay updated with me,” she says. “Since I take some online classes, he always asks about how they are going.”

One of Schatz’s hobbies when he’s not working with seniors is biking. Whenever he has a free chance on the weekend, he’ll head up to Seaside and ride his bike on a road behind Seaside Highlands. However, during college season, he is often at school writing letters of recommendation.

“During college season, I usually leave the school between eight and 10:30 p.m.,” Schatz says.

After Schatz graduated high school, he attended a four-year college for two years, but after the second year he couldn’t afford it so he dropped out and went to a community college for two more years. Once he finished the two years at the community college, he went back to a four-year college and majored in environmental studies.

“I liked [environmental studies] as a major,” Schatz says. “It was interesting, but when it came time to major in something, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so I went to Australia for six months.”

A couple of years after graduating from the second four-year college he attended, Schatz decided that he wanted to be a high school counselor, so he applied to UCLA and got his credentials there.

One of the big things that attracted Schatz to counseling was the fact that no two days are the same. Every other year, Schatz gets to work with seniors. Luckily for the class of 2016, they get the opportunity to have Schatz as their counselor.

“Schatz is helpful and reassuring,” senior Maya Stewart says. “He knows what kids are going through so it’s easy to talk to him about more than college.”

-Kim Burns