2020-2021 Maine School Counselor of the Year
Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport, ME
About the Winner
I knew from an early age that I wanted to work in a job where I could help others. I grew up in Norway, Maine and Graduated from Oxford Hills High School. I went on to obtain my B.A. in Psychology and then my M Ed. in Counselor education from the University of Maine. I got my start as a school counselor at the Etna-Dixmont School where I worked with students from Pre-K to 8th grade. I currently live in Hampden, Maine with my husband and two daughters. I work as an elementary school counselor at the Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport, where I have been for 8 years.
In my 15 years working in this profession, I have developed a passion for advocating for students, finding ways to build connections and teaching classroom lessons. I love interacting with so many students and helping them to develop skills they can use to navigate challenges throughout their lives. In my time at Smith School. I also started a Civil Rights Team with 3rd and 4th Grade students that I have been advising for 7 years. I have a strong desire to help educate youth about the topics of bias, racism and equity. I hope to help my students recognize that they can create positive change in the world everyday.
Over the last 4 years, my work with the MESCA board has helped strengthen my leadership skills and has allowed me the opportunity to network with other incredible school counselors across the state and across the country. It is an honor and a privilege to learn from so many amazing people. I hope to inspire other school counselors to recognize their own leadership potential. We all have ideas, skills and knowledge we can share with others. We all can be leaders if we have the courage to take that first step toward our dreams.
About the Award
The Maine School Counselor of the Year Award honors the best of the best – counselors who are running a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program at either the elementary, middle or high school level. MESCA members make nominations throughout the year and the winner is announced at MESCA’s annual conference.
MESCA Lifetime Achievement Award for 2021
Leonard Middle School
Tracey O’Connell from Leonard Middle School has been selected with the Lifetime Achievement Award 2021. She was selected based on several criteria, including: a positive iImpact on Maine students, a positive impact on the profession of school counseling and demonstrating leadership, advocacy and professionalism.
Tracey O’Connell is an unfailing champion of all students, and works unceasingly to make school a safe and nurturing place for everyone. She is creative, resourceful and brave in the face of adversity. She is a deep pool of calm water and understands how to provide respite while teaching resilience.
MESCA Admin of the Year 2021
York High School
MESCA’s Administrator of the year is given to someone who demonstrates a contribution and commitment to the advancement of the school counseling profession, has supported the implementation of a comprehensive school counseling program in their school community, has demonstrated a student-focused approach
and has demonstrated collaboration with and advocated for School Counseling. Mike Bennett embodies the soul of York High School and our community; he is constantly striving to elevate all of our students and staff and does so in a way that is safe, supportive and always student-centered. The Maine School Counselor’s Association is honored to present the 2021 Administrator of the Year award to Michael Bennett of York High School.
Maine School Counselor Spotlight
Meg Swanson, School Counselor
Vassalboro Community School
Where do you work?
Vassalboro Community School; PK-8. This is my fourth year as a school counselor
What made you decide to become a school counselor?
I have always wanted my life’s energy to make a positive impact. In my first job after college, I worked as a youth director at a YMCA offering programming for children birth-18 years old.
During my time at the YMCA of Greater Springfield, I was asked to be the coordinator for a program called Collegiate Achievers. Its mission was to promote first-generation, minority, and low-income students to enroll and attend college. I experienced profound enjoyment within this program…