This week, I discovered the video of Michelle Obama presenting the 2016 School Counselor of the Year Award to Katherine Pastor. I found it inspiring and heart-lifting – and thought it was a lovely way to wrap up this week. (Below is the video.)
But first, I wanted to share some of Michelle Obama’s words about school counselors. As she says, she knows from firsthand experience the important work that they do each and every day. She knows how important it is for children to have a caring adult in their lives and what a difference that can make.
“I want to thank school counselors across this country for everything you all do for our young people. I know firsthand the kind of impact you have on a child’s life. Growing up, so many of us, including me, were fortunate to have someone in our lives – some caring adult who decided that they were going be on our team; someone who pushed us when we wouldn’t push ourselves, who supported us maybe when we didn’t have the support that we needed; someone who refused to give us up on us no matter how badly we screwed up. And so many of us have gotten to where we are today because of that person, because of their unyielding love and their unwavering believe in our potential. And for so many young people in this country, that person is you – our school counselors. That’s the kind of impact you all have every single day, with every recommendation letter you write, with every college visit you organize, with every hour you spend taking students through their struggles and walking them through their applications and the FAFSA forms, and helping them make good choices for their future.”
Michelle Obama then introduced Katherine Pastor, listing many of the things that she has done as a school counselor in Flagstaff, Arizona. Here are just a few of them: Katherine created a FAFSA Application Completion Day at Flagstaff High school, helped build a new Career and Counseling Center, and lobbied her school district to pay for counselors to attend a comprehensive college assessment training. In seven years Flagstaff High School has seen a 13% increase in college acceptance rate.
All this while in 2013, Katherine was diagnosed with a “brain tumor, and had to undergo surgery and then endure extensive rehab to learn to walk and talk again but she refused to let any of those challenges stop her from serving her students.”
Michelle Obama concluded: “Ms. Pastor epitomizes genuine advocacy for student’s success and often believes in them more than they believe in themselves. Students see this and they’re inspired to reach higher, both in school and in their personal life. Ms. Pastor wants nothing more than to see students succeed and become the best versions of themselves. That is school counseling.”
Congratulations to Katherine Pastor and many thanks to Michelle Obama and school counselors everywhere!
For more about these awards and Michelle Obama’s other programs and efforts, see the WhiteHouse.gov website.