Teacher’s passion for helping leads to second career


Mrs. Pierson helps a student with a project.

Merrillville High School teacher Sonja Pierson has been pursuing her Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree and career for about four years. 

Mrs. Pierson must balance her life as a teacher and a full-time clinical mental health counselor.  She sees clients every hour on the hour from the time that she leaves school, she starts at 3 and doesn’t end till about 8 o’clock at night. Her clients vary from children as young as 4 to adults as old as 50.

Together, they work on coping skills, and talk about their traumas and process in session so that they are able to live a life without discord.

“It’s exhausting, quite honestly, but I’m good at what I do,” she said

Clinical Mental Health Counselors are people that are trained to provide the tools for people that are looking for help.

“While mental health can be scary because you’re isolated with your own thoughts and memories, and going to see a counselor can be beneficial,” Mrs. Pierson said. “They help you with coping skills, is somebody who is not biased, doesn’t know anything about you and is not here to judge you. It’s a safe space for you to talk about things that’s bothering you, so you can get things out of your head space.” 

As a teacher at Merrillville High School, Mrs. Pierson has many students that she has built close relationships with.

“It makes me feel good knowing that my kids trust me and come and talk to me, and that they feel comfortable with an adult, they trust the adult enough with things going on in their life…”  she said. “They find enough within me as a person to relate to me to be able to feel confident and comfortable, and continuously seek me out no matter if its good or bad they just want to share and I am ecstatic when they do, and I am thoroughly honored that they allow me to be a part of their life . . .  and let me see the insights of who they are outside of being a student at Merrillville High School.” 

Junior Kaitlyn Harris has built an unbreakable bond with Mrs. Pierson.

“My relationship with Ms. P is very close because I go to her about all my problems, and tell her how I’m feeling. She’s like my safe teacher, she’s like another mother to me. I connected with Mrs. P so well because she tells me the truth and didn’t sugar coat it for me and she tell me straight up when I’m right and wrong,” Harris said.

Junior Sunseray Peterson another MHS student has also built a close relationship with Ms. Pierson.

“My relationship with Ms. P is very motherly- daughterly. I look at her like a 2nd mom so I know I can talk to her about anything,” she said. “When I’m around her, she makes me feel so comfortable and safe to the point where I feel like I can talk to her about anything, and she always goes out of her way to make everyone feel comfortable to where they want to build a relationship.”