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May 30, 2020

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15 minutes with Erinn Prater, AHS guidance counselor

When did you graduate from Bluffton High School? Did you also attend Bluffton College? What was your major?

I graduated from BHS in 1990.  I attended OSU Lima my first year,  then OSU Columbus my second year and when I finally decided what to major in (elementary education), I inquired with Bluffton College about transferring there and found out I could graduate in 2 years there vs staying at OSU where it would take me 3 more years.  So, I did graduate from Bluffton College in 1994.

Tell me some favorite stories about growing up in Bluffton. Where did you hang out?

Well, not a ton of things for teenagers to do in a small town, so we went to just about every movie that came to Shannon Theatre and attended all the football and basketball games (which were played at Bluffton College back in the day) on the weekends too!  During the summer, we hung out at the swimming pool and swam in the pool and the buckeye (yuck)!  But, it was fun going down the slide and off the high dive!  We also hung out at PG's Pizza and at friends' houses.  My house was a pretty popular hang out because I grew up living on Jackson St - where the Bluffton Middle School now sits - so it was close to the school and downtown.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in as a child/teenager? Did you plan a musical instrument?

Growing up, I tried lots of different things - Girl Scouts, gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, track and volleyball.  I also tried violin and then played the flute for 4 years through junior high school.  I was in one of the last classes to attend Beaverdam Middle School!

 What was your first job? What was the most important thing you learned from that?

I did some babysitting in junior high.  But, my first job was at McDonalds.  A couple of my friends and I were some of the first employees, hired before they opened - we had to drive to Upper Sandusky for training.  I remember we had to go in and scrub between the floor tiles with toothbrushes before it opened!  I learned responsibility and teamwork, how other people count on you.

As long as I've known him, your dad's nickname has been Ozzy. Did any of your friends ever call you or your brother that?

My friends didn't call me that too much, except that Ozzy Osbourne was popular back then so sometimes there were jokes about that.  But, my brother did get called that.

You're a guidance counselor in the Ada school system, correct? Did you start out as a teacher or have you always been a counselor? Who inspired you to work with kids at the high school? What is your biggest challenge as a counselor? Do you think it's tougher to be a teenager now than when you were that age?

Yes, I am the Ada High School guidance counselor - I am starting my 11th year here.  I was a 3rd grade teacher at Bath for a few years while I earned my masters in school counseling from the University of Dayton.  I was inspired by my guidance counselor, Mr. Shaner.  My biggest challenge is balancing the variety of things that I do and also every day seems to bring something new!  Yes, I do believe it is definitely tougher for teens today.  The world of social media and texting has really changed the way teens interact with each other.  They are definitely much bolder when they are texting or posting things on-line and say things there from behind the screen that would never be said directly to another person.

Do your students give you a hard time about being from Bluffton? What do you do when Bluffton and Ada are in a sport event against each other?

Some of them do but usually only when there is a sporting event vs Bluffton.  I don't usually wear either color and I try to mingle but when the game is at Bluffton then I typically sit on the home side.

What was your favorite food in the school cafeteria as a kid? What is your favorite food at your school cafeteria now? How have the lunches changed since you were a student?

Pizza for both answers!  It is funny because some things like the pizza hasn't really changed but other things, especially this year, have changed like the wheat buns and healthier options, which my son complains about!

Tell me about your family -- husband, children?

My husband is Brad and he works in Lima at Interdyne/Transvac Corp.  He is also the Bluffton High School golf coach.  My daughter is Katie and she is 11 so this is her first year in the middle school at Bluffton.  My son is Nick and he is 8.  He is in 3rd grade.  They both love sports - basketball, baseball, softball and golf!

As a guidance counselor, do you get your summers off? When you're not at school, what do you enjoy doing? Hobbies? Favorite fitness workout?

I get about 8 weeks off - I have a total of 20 extended days so typically work 10 before school and 10 after.  At this stage of my life, I mostly enjoy watching my kids in their activities.  I also enjoy reading, scrapbooking, exercising, and I am an independent consultant for Thirty-One Gifts.  There is a good cardio class at BFR, I like to ride my bike, walk and a friend and I have been doing some running recently.

How do you stay in touch with friends? Are most of your childhood friends still in the area?

I stay in touch with my friends through texting, some are on Facebook and talking on the phone.  Yes, a majority of my childhood friends are actually in the area, but unfortunately we don't get together a lot...somehow we just don't get it organized.  Our kids aren't the same ages, so it seems that I see parents who have kids the same ages as mine and are in similar activities.

What is the most important thing you learned from your parents? If I remember right, your dad was police chief at one time. How old were you then?

Yes, my dad was police chief for a couple of years back in 1976-1977 so I was 5-6 years old.  The most important thing I learned from my parents?  That is a hard question because I have learned so many things.  One thing my mom always stressed was independence, I guess that is a big one for me, besides things like respect and perserverance.