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Herriman Journal

School counselors select best of the best for Jordy Awards

Sep 07, 2023 03:21PM ● By Jet Burnham

Jordy Award winner Natalie Bartholomew, a school counselor at Herriman Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Amy Gibson/Jordan District)

School counselors advise students about academics, course options, graduation requirements, career paths, college preparation, scholarships, mental health issues and identify and accommodate students with learning obstacles such as ADHD, autism and English as a second language. They also offer support to staff members and parents.

“There is a lot that we do— it's a big job,” Jordan District Secondary Counselor Consultant Stacee Worthen said.

Jordan District counselors follow a comprehensive school counseling program based on state guidelines and defined by priorities parents, students and teachers identify in a survey which is sent out every three years.

“We're looking at the data to make sure that we're implementing a program that is based on the needs of our community, our students, our parents and our teachers,” Worthen said.

How they implement the programs to meet those needs is up to the creativity of individual counselors. Worthen has been impressed with the dedication and innovation of counselors in Jordan District and created an award to recognize them.

“We're really just trying to come up with ways to really highlight them and show them that we see that they're working hard, we see that they have the best interest of the kids in mind,” Worthen said. “They're really advocating and contributing in a positive way for Jordan School District.”

The first ever Jordy Awards winners, nominated and selected by their colleagues are:

Natalie Bartholomew, Herriman Elementary School 

Jody Jensen, Copper Mountain Middle School 

Alyson Law, Fort Herriman Middle School

John Blodgett, Mountain Ridge High School

Counselors around the district were bursting with praise for their colleagues. Melissa Yardley, who was previously a counselor at Fort Herriman Middle and is now at Riverside Elementary, submitted several nominations.

“I nominated a bunch of my co-workers, actually, from all across the district,” she said. “I think it's fantastic that there's more recognition being placed out there for a lot of really hard work that goes into being a school counselor. And I was really grateful for the opportunity to be able to try and throw out some suggestions for people to be recognized for the work that they're doing.”

One colleague Yardley is most impressed with is Alyson Law, who she described as an exceptional counselor with contagious enthusiasm and positivity.

“Alyson is a passionate and dedicated counselor who has made a significant impact on the students and staff at Fort Herriman Middle School,” Yardley said. “She’s always thinking about how to best serve the needs of her students. She’s proactive in finding solutions and sees a need before it becomes a problem.”

Worthen agrees.

“Alyson Law is cool,” she said. “She’s like the cool mom. She is always thinking outside the box and how she can do a better job for these kids. She just cares. She connects deeply with these kids. She’s super smart and she just does a really amazing job.”

Yardley said counselors have an impact on the school community because they are responsible for supporting not only students but parents and staff members, as well.

The Copper Mountain Middle counseling team doesn’t know what they would have done without Jody Jensen, who increased her hours to cover the workload of her coworker Heather Kirby who went on maternity leave last year.

“She went above and beyond to step in while I was gone and take on so much,” Kirby said. “She works way more hours than her part-time because she cares so much about helping her students be successful.”

Worthen said “Jody Jensen is spectacular. She's a really, really great, solid counselor. The kids love her. She's positive and she's done a great job.”

Those who nominated Natalie Bartholomew mentioned her infectious positive attitude and dedication to her students and coworkers.

“She is always willing to jump in, help and be available to students, parents and teachers when they need her,” said one nominator. “She is continually leading by example, turning negative situations into positive and doing everything in her power to advocate for and support her students. Natalie is such a wonderful asset to the school counseling profession.”

Worthen was not surprised that Bartholomew was among the Jordy Award winners.

“Natalie Bartholomew is probably the most phenomenal school counselor that you will ever come across,” she said. “She's smart. She's caring. She's very proactive when it comes to trying to do what's best for kids.” 

Jordan District counselors meet regularly to collaborate and share ideas as a professional learning community. The number of school counselors in Jordan District has grown from 88 counselors six years ago to 153 this year. That number will increase as open positions are filled.

To fill these available positions, most at the elementary school level, Jordan District partners with state universities to provide internship and shadowing opportunities, mentoring, training and a Grow Your Own grant to help with tuition reimbursement for students studying to become school counselors.

“We really are trying to be innovative and trying to do some things to help support school counselors,” Worthen said. “We really want them to be their very best so that what they can provide for students is the absolute best.” 

Worthen said John Blodgett is an example of the effective mentoring Jordan District provides new counselors. Last year at Mountain Ridge High, Blodgett had an entire staff of newbies, which he mentored, officially and unofficially. Many of them nominated him for the Jordy Award.

“His newbies were really complimentary,” Worthen said.

One said, “John is the kind of leader who makes you feel empowered and capable. He guides, but he also lets your creativity shine. Even if the idea is different than how he would normally do things, he is always open to trying new things.” λ

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