Teryl Price and Lisa Donaldson say a great school counselor is someone who responds in a crisis, supports their co-workers and always puts students’ emotional needs first.
They would know.
Price, who works at Brick Mill Elementary, and Donaldson, who works at Alfred G. Waters Middle School, were recently named the Delaware Counselor of the Year at their respective grade levels by the Delaware School Counselor’s Association.
“I think this is the most awesome job in the world,” said Price, who won her second counselor-of-the-year honor, having previously received the award in 2004 while working for the Brandywine School District. “I mean, I get hugs every day. What could be better than that?”
As the lone counselor at Brick Mill, Price meets with all first -graders at least once a week, leads classes for students in second through fifth grade every other week and holds a variety of individual and group counseling sessions on a daily basis.
“In the classroom setting, we talk about bullying, test taking, goal setting, the importance of positive attitudes and, even at this age, we’re talking to the kids about how what they’re learning in school relates to the jobs they would like to pursue – even if those careers are professional athlete or ballerina,” she said. “The lunch groups are smaller and focused on dealing with the types of issues some students are facing, whether its divorce, the loss of a parent, or a family member being incarcerated.”
Price, who graduated from Trinity College in Harford, Conn., with a bachelor’s degree in religion, initially worked in marketing communications for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. before earning her master’s degree in education from the University of Delaware in 1995.
“I think I was born to work with kids,” said Price, who spent 16 years in the Brandywine School District before coming to Brick Mill last fall. “I really think of myself as an educator first, and it’s my job to empower students to take ownership of their academic progress, their interpersonal and family relationships and, ultimately, their destinies. So, for me, there is nothing better than when a student tells me I’ve helped them reach their goal.”
Donaldson, a counselor at Waters Middle since 2008, said her best moments also include directly impacting students’ lives.
“As a counselor, you hope you’re giving the kids what they need to succeed, both in high school and in life,” she said. “But, I also view myself as that person who helps connect parents and students to the school’s support system so that everyone is on the same page and on board with advocating for what’s best for a student.”
Page 2 of 2 - Donaldson also works with classrooms, small groups and individuals on conflict resolution, communication skills, anger management, organization and study skills. But, this time of year, she’s also working to prepare eighth-graders for the transition to high school.
“You try to prepare them by telling them what to expect and giving them the skills they need to be successful,” said Donaldson, who was nominated for the middle school counselor of the year award by Meredith Middle School interventionist Janice Johnson and Altamese Burbage, her co-counselor at Waters Middle.
“Mrs. Donaldson goes above and beyond the call of duty to help the students, the staff and the community,” Burbage said of her co-worker. “She’s smart and she’s proactive. She doesn’t just wait for thing to happen.”