Celebrating School Counselors

Weakley County Celebrates National School Counseling Week
Posted on 01/29/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Weakley County Celebrates National School Counseling WeekSchool counselors are not mandated positions in Tennessee but in Weakley County they are a priority. During a week set aside for celebrating the role across the nation, locally, the ten schools benefiting from more than 200 combined years of educational experience are grateful the much needed roles are so expertly covered.

February 1-5 marks National School Counseling Week.
“While the state provides funds for less than 10 of our school counselors, the county has deemed it critical to have 12 placed in our schools,” noted Randy Frazier, director of Weakley County Schools. “Having both elementary and high school-focused professionals means we can offer both prevention and intervention services that are tailored to fit the needs of our students.”

P.K. Kelley at Dresden High School and Sherry Page at Greenfield School have the longest tenures of the dedicated dozen. Kelley has been with the Weakley County School system the longest at 39 years – all at Dresden. She began as a teacher and for the last 28 years has provided counseling. Page, with 34 years, taught 2nd and 4th grades then moved into elementary school counseling. She now serves as the counselor for 6th-12th grade.

Keith Unger at Martin Middle has 27 years in the counselor’s office. Jamie Rickman has spent the last 23 years of her career in education. She went from teaching science at Gleason School to serving as the counselor at Dresden Middle, a position she has held for the last 16 years.

Other school counselors include Brenda Randolph who splits her time between Greenfield and Sharon; Kerri Maddox who works at Gleason with 6th-12th grades; Shannon McWherter and Erica Myers at Westview; Nancy Stutzman at Martin Primary; Amy Tuck at Martin Elementary; Megan Mitchell at Dresden Elementary and Sierra Kirk at Gleason working with kindergarten – 5th grade.

Among the responsibilities covered by school counselors are registration, scheduling, report cards, serving in various school-specific roles such as coordinating the Weakley County Backpack program or as a club sponsor, and, of course, counseling.

Classes for elementary age students offered by counselors underscore the importance of character traits such as trustworthiness, caring, responsibility, respect, fairness and citizenship.

Recently, as Dresden Elementary School counselor Megan Mitchell talked to her classes of Kindergarten – 4th grade, she used a game of trash can basketball to help students review how good character traits translate into being good citizens.

Martin Primary counselor Nancy Stutzman used the Great Kindness Challenge emphasis to create masks with kindness messages. Throughout her time with Rachel Fowler’s first graders she noted when students praised other students’ work and offered positive reinforcement of her own.

Middle and high school counselors help address goals and action plans, steering students toward their future. Dresden Middle’s Rickman says she is looking forward to resuming field trips as she typically takes students to visit local university and career options.

Kelley’s long tenure has offered her the perspective that that students seem a little less motivated than in years prior so her message has remained constant: Believe in yourself. Strive to achieve your goals. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

Unger at Martin Middle said he is glad the district has been able to stay with in-person classes during the pandemic. Initially, the assumption was there might be a need for increased counseling due to the uncertainties of the virus. But after three weeks at the start of the year, he returned to his usual role of providing counseling while also conducting RTI classes on such things as personality tests, career inventories, mental health issues and relationships.

Page summarizes the counselor’s job as being an “advocate for students.”

“When you walk away from a job, you want to think you made a little difference,” she adds.