School Counselor Spotlight: Nancy Castro-Nieto Retires

By Liliana Silva, COSA
Sweetwater Union High School District

Almost a year ago, on July 17, 2019, Liz Murray, a teacher, motivational speaker and advocate for students experiencing homelessness was a keynote speaker for Sweetwater Union High School District’s all staff professional development. That day, she said, “It’s not a question of will you or won’t you make a difference. It’s what kind of difference will you make.” Throughout her 33 years as a counselor of Sweetwater Union High School District, Nancy Castro Nieto has made positive, life-changing differences for students, parents, staff and community. Nancy believes that no work is too great or too small; that all things are accomplished as we speak less and do more and each person has something to contribute; and together, anything is possible.

Those in the Sweetwater community know Nancy to be kind-hearted, positive, and a champion of students. She always goes the extra mile to bring additional services and resources to the South Bay. She started her career as a school counselor at Southwest High School and then moved to Eastlake High School. She encouraged her students to look beyond high school and guided them to their post secondary plans. Nancy’s work as a school counselor transcended academics. Before social-emotional learning became the latest trend in education, Nancy understood that students’ social-emotional well-being is critical to their learning. She also believed culture and traditions are significant in students’ development. She was a mentor of Filipino American students who were involved in the Filipino American student organizations at her schools. 

Ten years ago, Nancy became the district counselor in the College and Career Readiness Office for SUHSD. Through her work with Compact for Success and SDSU, Southwestern College, EOP, CTE, school counselors, and administrators she shifted the culture so that a broader, more diverse group of students began to see college as a viable and attainable option, regardless of race or class. She worked on coordinating district-wide programs, such as college fairs, PSAT coordination, financial aid nights, College Making It Happen, college visits, and Compact for Success. The district-wide coordination and her leadership involvement in Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association, have made the roles of school counselors more impactful, visible, and significant. 

The Sweetwater community, school counselors, teachers, administrators and partnering agencies will miss Nancy tremendously. We thank her for being student-centered and pushing the school counseling profession forward. In her humble way, she has powerfully advocated and legitimized the calling for school counseling.