Counseling department head Kari Wislar leaves Whitman after 14 years


By Vishnu Dandi

Counseling Department Chair and Resource Counselor Kari Wislar transferred to Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia on January 4, after 14 years of working at Whitman. 

Wislar made the decision to leave Whitman in mid-September after her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Despite her relocation, virtual learning provided Wislar with the ability to continue assisting seniors with their college admissions in the first semester. 

Wislar will continue as an educational counselor in Atlanta; she recently accepted an offer from a hybrid model public school named Gwinnett Online Campus. Wislar believes the educational philosophy behind the school’s online and in-person attendance is “ahead of its time.” 

In her years leading the counseling department, Wislar oversaw Whitman’s robust college admissions process, social and emotional lessons and the Title IX program, which ensures all students have equal access to educational resources. Wislar says all her contributions were possible because of the assistance she received from her co-workers. 

Wislar’s favorite memory of Whitman community came in 2012, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She looks back fondly on when teachers, parents and students surrounded her with love. 

“To have that kind of support from your community meant the world to me and made me stronger,” Wislar said.

Even in dealing with her personal struggle, Wislar still remained focused on supporting her students, a testimony to her character. 

“Mrs. Wislar assured our daughter that she had her back,” parent Catherine Matthews said. “She was compassionate, kind, fierce, dedicated and unwavering in her support that encompassed every aspect of a high school junior’s life, in addition to those related to having cancer.”

As the head of the counseling department, Wislar worked extensively with other counselors to successfully oversee Whitman’s 2,000 pupil student body. The Georgia native used her “southern hospitality” — as the counseling department refers to it — to create an enjoyable work experience. 

“Working with her was wonderful since she created a family atmosphere in the counseling department,” said counselor William Toth, who will assume Wislar’s position as department chair for the remainder of the school year. “She’s a caring person who always puts her students first.” 

Wislar’s favorite part of Whitman was the students, she said. Every day, she met with her students and helped them troubleshoot any number of personal issues — from academic struggles to emotional support. The unpredictability of what each day held and the variation of what a student may need energized her daily work, she said. 

“A student could be having a rough day, and Mrs. Wislar would know how to turn it around for the better,” senior Zack Chirico said. “I honestly couldn’t imagine going through Whitman with any other counselor.”