Jennifer Chaney- Region 11 Counselor of the Month

Congratulations to Jennifer Chaney, McCarroll Middle School Counselor (Alpha A-L), for being named Region 11 Counselor of the Month!

What influenced you to become a school counselor, college advisor, social worker, or counselor leader?

Like most counselors, I've always found great joy in serving others! I vividly remember a situation as a classroom teacher where I had a student in need. He was struggling academically, emotionally, and mentally. I worked with the school counselor to help coordinate care and resources for him and his family. I remember feeling so thankful that the counselor let me have a role in that situation, and I recall feeling overwhelmed by the realization that THIS is what I was meant to do. I enrolled in my school counseling program not long after that.

Tell us about an initiative or change you were a part of that promoted advocacy for fellow counselors or students. Describe how that change has impacted your role or the lives of students.

Our district counseling team is currently preparing a presentation for a parent and student event to address bullying while focusing on resilience. We are partnering with a local counseling center and agency for the presentation. I am so proud to be a part of this and the positive conversations and encouragement it will provide for our district. Our hope is that we will equip parents, and especially students, with the knowledge and tools needed to handle difficult situations.

What are you most proud of in your current position?

I am most proud of the collaboration with teachers, parents, students, and others that I am a part of on my campus. I am thankful to be part of a team that trusts and encourages each other and focuses on the best ways to meet the needs of our students and campus.

When the work gets hard, how do you find a balance between your work and personal life?

Balance has always been my focus word. I work to find balance through quiet time and reflection, taking breaks when needed (even leaving campus for a bit!), and spending time with family. Sometimes, it seems like there is too much to do to walk away, but I always find my mindset is refreshed when I set things aside and take time to enjoy life outside of work.

What advice would you give future counselors, college advisors, or social workers?

This is my 24th year in education and my 8th year as a counselor, and I am still ALWAYS learning! My advice to any new counselor would be to be gentle with yourself as you navigate new and difficult situations and to remember that you cannot and will not fix all situations. However, you can walk alongside those you serve and partner with them as they go through struggles, problems, future planning, etc. I felt a lot of pressure early on to say or do the "magical" thing to make everything better. Once I gave myself grace and viewed myself as a helper instead of a solver, I believe I became more effective in my role.