Thu Jul 10 2014
HICKORY, N.C. — When Catherine Allen realized she wanted to devote her life to working as a school counselor she came to Lenoir-Rhyne to make it happen. Now, after just three years in the profession, she’s been named Middle School Counselor of the Year in her Albuquerque, N.M. school district.
At the end of each year the Albuquerque public school counselors gather for an event to reflect on the year’s successes. At the end of the event they hold an award ceremony patterned after the Oscars. When Allen heard her name called as the winner of the Counselor of the Year award and saw that her husband was there cheering her on she couldn’t believe what was happening.
“I was stunned—I thought, ‘Really? This can’t be the truth,’” she said. She was trembling and her supervisor had to help her up the steps to receive her award.
After the school year came to a close Allen attended this summer’s American School Counselor Association’s conference where she presented on a pair of topics: “Parents and School Counselors Existing Together,” and “Collaboration and Common Core Standards.”
Allen has been working with Madison Middle School’s 750 students for two years. She works directly with middle school students on thinking about careers and college in one-on-one sessions, in small groups and in the classroom alongside teachers.
“It’s natural for students to want to talk about what they want to be when they grow up,” she said. “A lot of them think they’re going to be in the NBA or in the music business as a rapper, but just as many have realistic goals like physician, pharmacist, nuclear physicist, welder or auto mechanic.”
And no matter what career the students may be focused on, Allen is able to guide them in researching, planning and goal setting, which enhances their chances for success in any given field.
“This was the first year that my school had this position so I had a lot of opportunities to step up and create programs to engage students,” she said. “I worked with a team of counselors and we came up with a lot of programs and material for the students.”
Allen earned her master’s in counseling at Lenoir-Rhyne. She liked the small school atmosphere and the fact that rolling admissions meant she’d be able to get started right away. At LR she found herself learning from professors who had been school counselors themselves. They were able to bring their real world experience into the classroom and prepare Allen for the realities of the public school system she was about to enter.
The two lessons she learned at LR that have helped her achieve so much just three years into her career are:
- Be Persistent.
- Be Adaptable.