“Follow your butterflies.”
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am the lead counselor at Five Forks Middle School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I am beginning my twelfth year as a school counselor. I was an elementary school counselor for 8 years and I am starting my 4th year as a middle school counselor. This year I am on the Georgia School Counselor Association Leadership Team as the social media editor. Prior to becoming a school counselor, I worked as a foster care social worker and as a counselor in a men’s correctional facility.
The quote that that keeps me trying and doing new things in my career is: “follow your butterflies” I feel that the thing that makes me nervous is the next thing I should try. It can be scary at first but it’s always worth it in the end.
Fun Fact: I was originally an art major in college!
Favorite website / app:
I love any tech tool or app that helps me connect with others (students, teachers, or fellow school counselors) or helps me connect students to their education, so it’s hard to choose just one favorite.
- Twitter: Twitter has been an amazing tool to help me connect with school counselors and other educators from around the globe. Through twitter, I’ve been able to build a professional learning network (PLN) that has allowed me to learn, share, and grow in so many ways as a school counselor. I’ve been able to moderate and co-moderate several #scchats as well.
- Instagram: I also use Instagram to connect with other school counselors and educators, but recently, I’ve started an Instagram account for our school counseling program. It allows us to connect even more with our students. Our student’s love to use Instagram and it’s important to meet them where they are and through the technology they use.
- Smore: Smore is an online newsletter that I use to connect our school counseling program to our staff. It’s an easy and appealing way to share what is going on in the counseling program with our whole staff on a regular basis.
- This year, I’m excited to use Google Expedition to help connect our students with experiences that they would not normally have. I plan on using them during our Reach Higher Post-Secondary Awareness Week and Career Day.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My friend and fellow school counselor, Stacey Miller, has such a passion for her work with students and the school counseling profession. She inspires me to step out of my comfort zone and be a leader. She encouraged me to join the Georgia School Counselor Association leadership team and present at conferences. When I tried to stay in my comfort zone of working just with my students in my school, she said to me “imagine what a greater impact you would make my sharing what you do with other school counselors…how many students could you impact then?” This inspires me to continue to present at conferences and inspired me to start my school counseling blog.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
My focus as a school counselor is to connect with students and connect them to their education. This focus for me was defined while was a counselor at a men’s correctional facility. I was a counselor and the security threat group coordinator at a men’s detention center. The majority of my caseload was made up of hate group members and gang members. The gang members I worked with were without a doubt some of the most talented, charismatic, and intelligent people I’ve ever worked with yet 85% to 90% of them had not finished high school. I spoke with each of them to see what kept them from completing school. Over and over I heard that they had no connection to education or educators. They did not know anyone in their family or community that graduated high school, went to college and achieved success. They did not feel connected to an adult at school nor did they feel like they belonged or were valued in school. They in turn found a place where they belonged, were valuable, and where they could find success in gangs. I knew I must get into education to make an impact. As a school counselor, I always remember those men and why I am an educator. I want my students to feel engaged, connected, and valued. I want them to know that they belong in our school and that their education can lead to success.
Describe what it means for you to be a K-12 Influencer in STEM.
I once was a person that felt nervous or hesitant to use technology, but I am also a person that will step out and do that thing that makes them nervous. So, one summer I decided to join twitter and began following #notatASCA, for those school counselors who were not attending the American School Counselor Association National Conference. I participated in my first twitter chat that summer and that is when I realized how powerful social media and technology could be in connecting people. Of course, I still believe in the power of human connection and face to face interactions, but technology is a regular part of our everyday lives now and we can’t just ignore it. We need to learn about it and wield it in a way that makes a positive impact. My students love technology and social media so it is a great way to engage them and connect with them. I don’t feel that part of my role as a school counselor is to dissuade students from technology but rather to teach them about the amazing power of technology and how to use technology as a tool to impact and connect with others in a positive way.
What knowledge would you impart to other K-12 Influencers in STEM?
If you are new to technology (and I still feel like I’m a newbie!) just choose one tool and use it. Jump on in, get familiar with it, incorporate it into what you do. Then add another tool. Don’t try to use all new things at one time!
For any educator involved in STEM or using technology, I think it’s important to make sure that what you use serves a purpose in your educational goal and isn’t used just for the sake of using technology or STEM.
Learn more about Laura!