GOSHEN — Jan Desmarais-Morse, a school counselor at Goshen Middle School, is a finalist for the national 2019 School Counselor of the Year.
The American School Counselor Association award honors counseling professionals who devote their careers to serving as advocates for the nation’s students, helping them achieve success in school and in life. Nominations for the program were submitted by the state school counselor associations, according to a news release.
“I am humbled to have been selected from among such an incredible group of professionals to represent the profession of school counseling, Goshen Community Schools and the state of Indiana,” Desmarais-Morse said. “School counselors do not work in isolation and it is only through the support of tremendous leadership, other school counselors and classroom teachers that I am freed up to promote and implement a comprehensive and preventative school counseling program.”
Originally from Maine, Desmarais-Morse has been a school counselor since 1989. Prior to that, she was a teacher for two years.
Afterward, she received her master of education degree in counselor training from Worcester College in Massachusetts and began her career as an elementary school counselor and served elementary schools in Waldoboro and Union, Maine.
In 1993, Desmarais-Morse, her husband James, and their two children moved to Indiana where she was a school counselor with Triton School Corp. in Bourbon.
Three years later, she began at Goshen Middle School, where she is currently one of four school counselors – two for the school’s new technology division, (which Desmarais-Morse is a part of), and another two for the international school.
“I am fortunate to work on a school counseling team that always asks, ‘What is best for our students?’ and that works to meet the needs of our students,” she said. “We make a great team and I cannot imagine working with a better group of school counseling professionals.”
Last November, Desmarais-Morse was awarded the Indiana Middle School Counselor of the Year by the Indiana School Counselor Association.
Now, she is one of six finalists across the nation to be selected for the national 2019 School Counselor of the year.
Finalists for the national award will be judged on effective school counseling programs, leadership skills, creative school counseling innovations and contributions to student advancement, the news release states.
Before the final selection is made for School Counselor of the year, all finalists will fly to the ASCA home site in Alexandria, Virginia, to be interviewed on Nov. 12. The final selection will be made after the interviews. The 2019 ASCA School Counselor of the Year will be announced by December, Desmarais-Morse said.
Steve Hope, assistant superintendent of secondary education at GCS said Desmarais-Morse is a standout.
He explained that she listens to her students with her best school counseling cognition and her heart.
“She listens not only to what is spoken, but more importantly to what is unspoken,” Hope said. “Her keen listening skills are combined with a heavy dose of empathy so that she can truly imagine the lives, the hardships and the successes of her students. Jan is always working hard and questioning what she does and why being brutally honest with herself about her work and the outcomes of her students.”
In addition, Hope said Desmarais-Morse is a tireless advocate for every one of her students until she has the support the students need to be successful.
“With this listening and advocacy, Jan then builds resiliency in our students helping them to become their own best advocate,” he said.
Hope also touted her leadership skills.
“She helps to lead the local Lilly Endowment-funded comprehensive school counseling grant and has been a statewide leader as a speaker and trainer,” he said.
In late January, Desmarais-Morse will travel to Washington, D.C., with Hope and Goshen New Tech Middle School principal Lori Shreiner and for a special celebratory and educational events where the finalists will be honored in an award ceremony and formally recognized at a black-tie gala.
The other finalists are from Milwaukie, Oregon; Waianae, Hawaii; Norman, Oklahoma; Chicago; and Dallas.
“I am tremendously excited to meet the other finalists for School Counselor of the Year and look forward to working with them to promote our profession,” Desmarais-Morse said.