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The Perennial

Mr. Coote Says Goodbye to Pinewood

Director of College Counseling Parts Ways with the School
Sam Jezak

   As Pinewood high school students navigate the world of college admissions, they often turn to one person on campus: Director of College Counseling Marvin Coote. However, students will soon no longer be able to see his familiar face around campus. Coote, who has been working at Pinewood for six years, will be drawing this chapter of his career to a close as moves into the role of Director of College Counseling at Lick Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. 

   Coote was born in Jamaica to parents who never went to college. Early on, he had to work hard to get a good education. Once he graduated, he began working with high school dropouts and incarcerated youth. 

   “It was Goldilocks-ish,” Coote said. “The first five to eight years of my career were finding the right age group that I wanted to work with.” 

   Since landing on college counseling and coming to Pinewood, Coote has made a considerable impact on the lives of students here.

   “I hope I am able to communicate with kids and kids feel that they can communicate with me to help them find their definition of what success is,” he said. 

   To Coote, success is not name-driven. When one student turned down a more renowned college to go to a lesser-known one, some people were shocked at that decision. However, Coote had a different perspective.

   “It was the right place for that student, and they’ve had immense success,” Coote said. 

   With the philosophy of prioritizing fit over name, Coote has helped many students find their way to their dream school. 

   “I think our students have outperformed themselves,” he said. “The coolest question I get is, ‘How did that kid get into that school?’”

   To Coote, this question is a reflection of all the hard work he and the student put in for the end reward. Receiving this question means he and the student broke through whatever expectations were previously placed upon them.

   Associate Director of College Counseling Carolyn Siegel was recruited to college counseling by Coote four years ago. 

   “Mr. Coote is very honest with students and cares deeply about positioning students as best he can for finding a well-rounded list of schools that are a good fit for them,” she said. 

   After Coote leaves, Siegel and newcomer Alyson Tom will be in charge of the college counseling department. Tom, who will be joining Pinewood in July, has more than twenty years of experience in education and has served as Associate Director of College Counseling at Castilleja School and Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Rice University.

     Coote said that he hopes to continue helping students achieve their goals as he continues his college counseling career.

   “The fantastic part of this career is looking back on where students have come and seeing how they’ve gone from some version of adolescence to joining the grown-up world,” Coote said.  

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