Chocowinity native receives award

Published 7:09 am Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Special to the Daily News

A woman with local roots has received one of North Carolina’s most prestigious awards in education.
Jessica Thompson, a Chocowinity native, was named North Carolina Elementary School Counselor of the Year on Nov. 4.
The award was presented by the North Carolina School Counselor Association. Thompson received the award during the opening of the North Carolina School Counselor Association Fall Conference.
Thompson received the Wake County School Counselor of the Year in August 2010. Eric Sparks, Wake County Schools’ director of counseling and student services, nominated Thompson for the state award.
Thompson was required to submit information on her school’s counseling program and guidance curriculum to be considered for the award. She also had to gather letters of recommendation from students, faculty and parents. The letters detailed examples of Thompson’s skills and why they qualified her for the award.
Thompson said her job has helped her to expect the unexpected. She said it is hard to plan for the problems students have.
She gave this example:
“When I was a new counselor, a middle school-aged boy ran into the counseling suite crying. I used my prior knowledge and assumed he was angry, because many boys that age cry when they are angry. I wasn’t on the right track at all. Eventually, he told me he had just lost his best friend because he told a secret.”
Thompson was required to volunteer in schools as part of her college education, beginning in her first year of college. She volunteered in elementary, middle and high schools in the Wilmington area.
She said having that hands-on experience helped her find out where her strengths and weaknesses as a teacher lay.
“I shadowed school counselors, teachers and even a PE teacher once. I felt it was important to know how schools work and as well as the role of the counselor at each level. I would encourage everyone who is interested in the teaching and counseling profession to volunteer with kids. Sometimes you may find you love teaching but not kids, and that is fine. There are many levels of teaching and counseling from preschool to college.“
Thompson is a counselor at Millbrook Elementary Magnet School in Raleigh. Her parents, John and Leta Thompson, live in Chocowinity.
Ultimately, Thompson said, her job is about something simple.
“I have always had a calling to work with children and also have a love for psychology. Working in public schools helps me give all students the tools they need to become successful citizens.”