Share a little more about you: Where you are from? Hobbies/Interests?
I was raised in and graduated from Roundup. I was blessed with an opportunity to come back to my hometown and have a career and be able to make a positive impact on my community. I married my high school sweetheart, Cole and have two beautiful, energetic, and hilarious children, Thaiden (12) and Lorien (10). I love being a volleyball and track coach and was fortunate enough to have my volleyball team place at the state tournament this year. I also like to read, cook, and do crafts in my spare time.
What compelled you to be a school counselor or led you to where you are today?
I never really intended to be a school counselor, but it seemed like the universe must have known better for me! I finished my degree in Child and Family Studies from Concordia College - Moorhead and planned to go on to graduate school for Marriage and Family Therapy. I ended up moving back to Montana and at the time, there were no graduate programs for MFT. I found the program at MSU-B and decided to try school counseling. I immediately fell in love with it and went in with the hopes of working at a high school. The Billings School District was not taking interns during my last year of school, so I reached out to my hometown and was able to do my internship there under Erv Booth and Madeline Cooper’s supervision. Through the internship, I realized that I loved the work I could do with elementary students that was more than just planning for college and decided that elementary was where I wanted to be. The next year, Erv retired and I was able to step into the position. In terms of my career, I never really planned for it, but everytime an opportunity came about it just felt right. I have so many moments where I will get done seeing a kid or talking to a parent and look back and say “Where did that come from? I didn’t even realize I knew all that!!!” That’s when I know I am in the right place!
Favorite aspect of your job?
My favorite part of my job is unscheduled check-ins with kids. Whether it is breakfast, recess, lunch, in the hallway, in the classroom, or when a student comes into the office, I love stopping them and asking them how they are doing and giving them a positive statement. The best part is seeing the emotions on their face, whether it’s a big smile because someone showed interest in them, getting a hug from them or sadness, which shows me they need to talk and inviting them to come a visit with me. I love being an adult who can show each student that they are important and treat each one of them with unconditional positive regard no matter what is going on with them.
Particularly memorable program, intervention, group, lesson you’ve implemented that you believe made an impact with your students/staff?
My favorite program is my sixth grade guidance curriculum. I teach the sixth graders once a week in a curriculum that I built around the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. Throughout the year, students are learning the habits through a project of building a “business”. They are required to work in groups and complete many tasks including job applications, interviews, managing bank accounts, paying taxes, and ultimately running a business for the school and community on the day of our simulated town. I have done this project for 10 years now and the whole community gets excited to see what themes and ideas the students have come up with.
Favorite part of the spring/fall conference?
My favorite part of the spring conference is the collaboration with my fellow school counselors. In a small school, where I am the only elementary counselor, it is easy to feel alone and get very overwhelmed. It is comforting to be with others who know what I am going through. It is also uplifting to feel the support from others and to share ideas. I have gotten so many wonderful ideas from the level sharing sessions I attend as well.
Memorable moment in your career?
I don’t have one really memorable moment, but I have a collection of moments that are similar. These moments have happened when I have been working very closely with a student and their teacher and their parent on behavior interventions. These memorable moments occur when I am able to “break through” with a student or with parents and finally get them to see the other side or the big picture. They occur when I get a student to see another person’s point of view or I get a parent to finally agree to take their child to the doctor. It is so rewarding to finally get to see changes or get answers, support, and solutions from doctors. It is almost like a weight is being lifted off when I know that things are going to get better for all who are involved; the student, the parents, and the teachers. Being a in a small community, I have been fortunate enough to watch most of these kids through high school and to see how they continue to blossom.