Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our very own committee chair named Indiana's Exemplary High School Counselor of 2010

Article By Mikel Livingston • Journal and Courier • October 20, 2010

If such a thing is possible, Harrison High School student assistance counselor Bonnie Crawford may be too good at her job.

In addition to her role as counselor, Crawford is coordinator of freshman orientation, student council adviser, organizer for a variety of student outreach programs and more.

Last week, Crawford was named Indiana's Exemplary High School Counselor of 2010.

It's an award given by the Indiana School Counselor Association.

Her job is to forge connections with students, and she's so good at it that it makes other aspects of her job -- such as filing paperwork -- sometimes difficult.

"What I end up doing many times is pushing aside the paperwork that needs to be done here to talk to kids," Crawford said. "Then I take the paperwork home and do it at night."

She said she makes time for students, no matter what else she has to work on.

"You never know what's going to walk through the door, whether it's somebody upset because there's been a death in the family or because of a breakup or because conflict at home," Crawford said. "You never can push a kid aside and say I can't talk to you because I've got to do whatever. You've got to just open up your door."

It's an attitude that the staff and students at Harrison have noticed.

Principal Doug Lesley said students are very trusting of Crawford and that she has a way of "putting things in perspective."

"You can't go to her office very often and find her alone," Lesley said.

Lesley said Crawford's ability to form connections with students has made her a role model for other counselors and new teachers.

"She just does everything and does it with a passion," Lesley said. "She's always one to say, 'I'll lead that project.'"

Crawford said she was notified of the Exemplary High School Counselor award through an e-mail. She and her husband had just returned from a weekend camping trip during which Crawford had no computer access. When she opened her e-mail inbox, she found a note from a colleague congratulating her on an award she hadn't known she'd won.

"It didn't click," Crawford said. "I looked at it and I think it took several seconds before it hit."

Crawford will receive the reward during a Nov. 10 ceremony in Indianapolis. Lesley said the award is a first for Tippecanoe School Corp.

In her office with walls already covered in various awards, Crawford said she doesn't yet have a spot picked out for the new plaque.

"That's not why I do any of this stuff," she said. "I do what I do because I want to see kids be successful."

That's the same mentality Crawford carried five years ago who when she discovered that one-third of the freshman class had at least one failing grade.

"I went to Mr. Lesley and said, 'We need to do something,'" Crawford said. "He and I did some brainstorming and came up with the idea of the freshman success program."

It's been four years since the program was implemented under Crawford's oversight. The program has been so successful that McCutcheon High School implemented a similar program last year even amid sizable budget cuts.

Crawford said the program helps students realize existing potential.

"In all cases, the kids are capable," Crawford said. "It's just that something has gotten in the way."

Recent years also carry a note of melancholy as Crawford knows retirement is approaching.

"I could retire now but I definitely will not do that," Crawford said. She sees herself staying at Harrison at least two more years, when her daughter graduates from college. After that, she said, she'll move into community volunteer work.

"Sometimes I do wonder what will happen, who will replace me in this position because it really does take a lot of time and effort to pull all facets together," Crawford said. "But I'm sure there will be someone who will come along. Nobody's irreplaceable."

But it won't be the same for faculty and staff who are left to carry on.

"She's that person who gets things done," Lesley said. "We'd struggle without her here."

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