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The Saratoga Falcon

Safine leaves district admin role to return to counseling

Maggie Zeng
Guidance counselor Brian Safine in his office.

After guidance department chair Alinna Satake left for a new job in the Los Altos Mountain View district last spring, an unexpected but welcome candidate applied for the vacancy: Brian Safine, who resigned from his post as the district’s director of human resources to take a role he had held years before. 

Safine, a self-deemed “nerd for counseling,” said he is thrilled with his decision to be back working closely with students and staff. He said the opportunity came to him as “a bit of a surprise, but a very welcomed surprise” nonetheless.

Taking over Satake’s position, Safine is serving freshmen and sophomores with last names S through Z, and juniors and seniors with last names T through Z.

Safine has worked for 16 years in the district, with 13 and a half at the school in roles as a guidance counselor and assistant principal and two and a half at the district office in his human resources role. He is taking a large pay cut to return to his counseling role.

Safine attributes his return to a reflection on why he went into education in the first place: Fueled with passion to support students and good teaching, he said he feels energized from students’ optimism, appreciation and sincere diligence. He enjoys every part of his work — down to the seemingly monotonous tasks of reading emails and schedule changes.

Safine’s immediate goal for this year is reconnecting with students and processing college applications for the vast majority of students who have applied early to college. 

Additionally, he seeks to resolve a major issue in the community, one he calls the “college rat race.” From his experience working with students, he believes many place their worth on colleges, using acceptances as validation. Hoping to ease this process, Safine and the guidance department have partnered with college and career counselor Brad Ward in the College and Career Center. 

“It’s something constantly that I’m looking at for our community, which is not letting that college scorecard define a student’s worth,” he said.  

Beyond that, Safine wants to continue expanding outreach through talking with parents and staff and helping the community understand how to view guidance in college admissions and courses decisions. Wishing to help students find the right academic match for them, he and the guidance department, along with Ward, have already scheduled 40 college sessions for them. 

So far, Safine said his return to the school has been enjoyable.

“I like being in front of students,” Safine said. “I like hearing their feedback. The excitement of working at a school and working with students again in the last two weeks have totally met my expectations.”

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