New counselors Royal and Flynn bring enthusiasm to GHS guidance department


Treely Dowd

New guidance counselors Courtney Royal (left) and Kelly Flynn (right) pose for a picture.

Courtney Royal

Courtney Royal is one of our two new counselors at GHS, and she expresses joy in her ability to help the student community and work in the town. 

“Gloucester’s always been such a beautiful place, and when I saw an opportunity here, I got really excited, because I love coastal communities,” Royal said. “It’s a really special kind of spot. I was really excited to apply, and now I’m really excited to be here.”

Royal studied counseling psychology at the University of San Francisco, where she earned her master’s degree. Although she’s new to GHS, she’s no stranger to counseling. 

“I lived in the San Francisco area after I graduated from college, and I started my work at a high school in Half Moon Bay, California, which is actually very similar to the beach-y community here,” Royal said. “So, there, I had a very similar role, I helped with all sorts of things that students needed to get ready for whatever was next for them.” 

Royal taught in California for three years, and says that she loved her time there. However, her family lives in New England, so she made the decision to teach in the Exeter, New Hampshire area.

“I started working at a middle school, so I got to work with 5th-8th graders, which was really fun…” Royal said. “I loved middle school, but I also really missed high school, so I was really excited to get back to high school.”

Though she’s young, her students don’t have to worry about a lack of experience or passion. In fact, Royal has aspired to be a school counselor for most of her life.

“So, this is super dorky, but I’ve wanted to be a counselor since I was little,” Royal said. “I remember talking to my stuffed animals and having my stuffed animals tell me their feelings… and then I had a really great school counselor when I was in high school. I’m a first-generation college student, my parents didn’t go to college, so I didn’t even think that was a possibility for me. I had a counselor that really pushed me and told me I could go to college if I wanted to, so she kinda took me under her wing and really supported me, and I loved that.”

Royal is enthusiastic about empowering students to choose their own paths for their future. 

“My role is to be an advocate for students and to be a voice for students,” she said. “I would love to just get involved and really be continuous support for all of my students, whether it’s getting them ready for trades, jobs, or college. I feel really honored. I feel like I have the coolest job in the world. I get to learn about people’s stories all day, and hopefully support them along their way.”

Royal also places an emphasis on open communication and mutual trust. “I don’t have the answers, I think students have the answers,” she said. “I’m here to listen and support them on their journey.”

Kelly Flynn

Kelly Flynn is the other of the two new guidance counselors. Flynn, who replaced longtime staff member Carl Sacco after his retirement last summer, is excited to bring her experience and expertise to the guidance department.

“I’ve been a guidance counselor for many years…  My last full-time guidance position was at Concord Carlisle High School,” Flynn said. “But over the years I’ve worked for early college, done some consulting at Ipswich High.”

A longtime Massachusetts resident, Flynn grew up in Sharon and went to graduate school in Boston after earning a degree in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her career as a counselor stems from her interest in psychology. Before beginning her work with high schools, she assisted with psychological research.

“I was very social, so I think that made me interested in wanting to work with people and I definitely was interested in studying psychology,” Flynn said. “I got my master’s [in school counseling] at Suffolk University and I worked there as well in the psychology department.”

With the new school year in full swing, Flynn discussed her passion for helping each grade in the high school with their specific 

“When you start school, it’s like all this energy, because you’re helping kids with their schedule changes. And then once that’s over, you’re meeting with seniors about their college and you’re getting to know the freshmen,” Flynn said. “And then you meet with the sophomores about some of the things they’re thinking about, career aspirations, and then working with the juniors to make sure that they’re registering for SATs.”

When she’s not helping students, Flynn enjoys spending time with, and cooking for, her dog and three children.

“I like to go for walks with my dog. He’s a yellow lab, his name’s Henry and he is a little over a year,” Flynn said. “I’m really into the Barefoot Contessa. I have all her cookbooks.”