Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized as a featured counselor?
School: Passaic County Technical Institute
City: Wayne, N.J.
Nominator: Yassar Kahn
When asked about Lauretta Cregar, student Yasar Khan called her “the source of our passion, [the] door to opportunities, and the vision to success.” This description of the Wayne, N.J. guidance counselor is the perfect w
“Mrs. Cregar always provides unique and prestigious programs,” insists Kahn, so that her students will “develop the skills to be well-rounded and ready for the next stage of life.” ay to begin profiling the many ways Cregar succeeds as a school counselor. Cregar uses her own experiences, as well as a variety of other sources, to help her students appreciate the real world experience of college and the post-high school world.
Cregar clearly has a personal interest in the success of her students that reaches beyond the obligations of her job. For example, she has nominated students of Passaic County Technical Institute, including Khan, for various scholarships and programs. In fact Cregar even attends the various activities and ceremonies of her students in order to further encourage their achievements. Her active dedication to her job and her students definitely makes a difference. She is devoted to her students, believes in them, and makes it her duty to ensure that they reach their goals.
Just one example of Cregar’s personal dedication is that of Yasar Khan, the student who nominated her. According to Khan, Cregar regularly serves as a “catalyst” for his projects, including his presidency of five clubs, his initiation of a school honor code and his accumulation of over 40 college credits during his high school career. “Mrs. Cregar made sure that I accomplished every one of my high school goals,” stresses Kahn, “she never hesitated in doing the extra work.”
In addition to the extra hours that Cregar put into her job, she contributed an even more important element: optimism. Khan comments that she “always remains positive and finds a very thriving solution to every problem.” Not only does Cregar take extra time to help her students, she constantly remains upbeat and looks for solutions to any complications that might arise. She develops these skills along with her problem-solving attitude with the school principal and his Forward Team initiative which works to continually advance the high school. In her job as a guidance counselor or on the Forward Team, there is no doubt that Cregar always persuades her students to prosper.
Cregar has been an inspiration to her students and has exemplified the notion that anything is possible. Her encouragement, optimism and various means of helping her students shows just how helpful she has been to Yasar Khan and to all of her students and peers.
Mary Jane Whitty
School: New Berlin Eisenhower Middle and High School
City: New Berlin, Wisc.
Nominator: Beverley Tannert
Not many school counselors are willing to assist students in some of the most minute details of college planning, including finding housing at their prospective college. However, this is just one element of what sets Mary Jane Whitty of New Berlin, Wis. apart from other school counselors. At appointments designated to help students be admitted to University of Wisconsin-Madison, Whitty found a way to help students with their housing needs, in addition to their applications and forms. According to her colleague Beverly Tannert, Whitty always goes beyond the obligations of her job, even with students that “do not have a lot of support or assistance.”
According to Tannert, energy and organization are the two keys to Whitty’s success as a school counselor. These qualities have served her well, since she has worked in the New Berlin School system since college and has worked her way from an English teacher to a guidance counselor, thanks to two master’s degrees in guidance and administration. She has served as a guidance counselor at New Berlin Eisenhower since 1986. Whether she is arranging for students to meet with admission counselors or is serving on one of her many posts at her school, it is obvious that Whitty is a vital part of the New Berlin Eisenhower school district.
At her school, Whitty has created various community outreach opportunities and has participated in activities including food pantry drives and Christmas gift drives. Also, being a school counselor is not all that Whitty does at her school. Just a few of her titles include Middle School Student Council Advisor, Member of Eisenhower School Problem Solving Team and advisor of the It’s Up 2 U anti-bullying campaign. These various activities demonstrate how committed Whitty is to her job, to her students and to her school.
This is not the first time that Whitty has been recognized for her outstanding dedication to her career as a counselor. According to Tannert, “there are countless letters of thanks and recognition from surrounding school districts thanking her for providing assistance to students and staff.”
Beverly Tannert is only one of the many people who want to make their appreciation to Whitty known. In fact, many of this counselor’s former students “identify her as someone who made a real impact in their education and development of character.” Whitty’s personal mantra that she has reiterated throughout her career is that “it is all about the kids.” Her students are clearly thankful; they believe their success is all due to her.
Tannert summarizes Whitty’s achievement and dedication perfectly by saying she “truly has had a positive impact in helping our students achieve success for decades.” Whitty’s impressive career and compassion towards her students and colleagues are some of many reasons why she is continually recognized as an outstanding counselor.
School: Glasgow High School
City: Glasgow, Mont.
Nominator: Corey Smith, student
According to student Corey Smith, his guidance counselor, Bob Rennick, is a major reason that he graduated loan-free from Montana State University. Smith remembers that a tuition waiver and scholarships recommended by Rennick helped ensure that he graduated without the mountain of debt that is common for students today. Rennick, a guidance counselor at Glasgow, Mont., has made a habit of helping his students in variety of ways. Rennick’s dedication to his job, along with his strong support for his students, is why he is one of our featured counselors.
Rennick’s philosophy is that everyone should have a plan for after high school. “[He] believes that every student should have an idea of what to do after graduation,” says Smith, “whether that [plan] is college, a vocational school, a branch in the U.S. Army, or a job.” In order to ensure that each student does have a post-high school goal, Rennick meets with all juniors and seniors in his office one-by-one and discusses their future. Specifically, Rennick is dedicated to preventing students from wasting money or going into unnecessary debt. He recommends that his students find any and all financial aid and persuades them to have a concrete plan of what they want to do after high school before they spend any money. Honesty and support are two elements that define Mr. Rennick’s counseling career at Glasgow High School.
Other activities that Rennick organizes are annual college and career fairs, as well as FAFSA information and help sessions. According to Corey Smith, Rennick “is also highly involved in trying to incorporate more honors classes, AP classes, dual credit classes and other afterschool hours programs.” These have proven beneficial in helping students earn college credit during high school. Rennick’s actions have had very positive results: Smith says that many of Glasgow High School’s students go to college with a semester’s worth of credits. Mr. Rennick’s hard work and support of his students can reach beyond high school and can greatly improve the students’ futures. In fact, he does not stop helping a student once he or she has graduated. Smith says that Rennick realizes that those who “are struggling to make the transitions to college, the adaptations to the working world, or new friends in a new place” are the ones who may need the most help. It’s this awareness of the needs of graduates — as well as current students — that sets Rennick apart from other counselors.
Smith defines Rennick’s work as a series of “selfless acts.” His unwavering support and above-and-beyond work for his current and former students shows how dedicated he is to his job as well as to the welfare of his students.
School: Environmental Charter High School
City: Lawndale, Calif.
Nominator: Christine Luu, student
When discussing their high school guidance counselors, it is probably safe to say that few students would use the word “idolize.” However, that is the exact term that Christine Luu used to describe her counselor, Mandy Breuer of Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, Calif. “She is like a friend you can count on,” says Luu, “she is very approachable and willing to help everyone, not just those at the top of the class.”
One way in particular that Breuer stands out is her program to explain the sometimes hard to understand FAFSA. “I recall the first time that my senior class heard of the FAFSA,” said Luu, “we were all terrified and lost on how to fill out such an important application.” Breuer responded quickly and intelligently by holding a workshop for students and parents in order to talk them through the tricky process. This is just one part of Breuer’s initiative. According to Luu, she also provides a wide range of opportunities for all of her students when it comes to extracurricular activities or internship searches. Whether it is during school hours or on her own time, Breuer always manages to come through for her students and provide them with exactly what they need.
This rapport with her students begins on the first day of school. “[She] bombards my classmates and me with college information and scholarship resources,” says Luu, “she guides us through the research and planning process for all of our high school years.” In addition, Breuer makes herself accessible to discuss anything from college applications to personal issues. It is clear from her habits that Breuer is there for her students all throughout their high school careers, whether it is for college help or for individual matters.
Judging from her track record of taking personal time to help her students, her initiative and her guidance in multiple areas including financial aid and personal issues, Breuer is a counselor who genuinely cares about the futures of her students. Luu stresses, “[Breuer]…has true compassion for her students and really loves what she does.”
Deborah Lisa Brown
School: Jericho Senior High School
City: Jericho, N.Y.
Nominator: Christopher Yao
Deborah Lisa-Brown is a guidance counselor that offers students her time, “day and night, 365 days a year,” according to student Christopher Yao. This featured counselor is based in Jericho, N.Y. and is an active community member at Jericho Senior High School. Yao believes that all educators should emulate this counselor’s qualities and strengths. Lisa-Brown’s above-and-beyond dedication to her job and her students is why we have selected her to feature.
When asked to provide an example of how Lisa-Brown has helped her students, Yao explained how, at his first junior meeting, she encouraged him and his family to ask “as few and as many questions” as they could think of. Her willingness to help first-time college applicants, and her willingness to help their families, is proof of her desire to help her students succeed. As Yao explains, she is unmatched when it comes to her knowledge and devotion to her students.
And it isn’t just Yao that recognizes these super qualities in Lisa-Brown. Students and parents take her advice seriously, of course, but everyone, including her peers, depends on her expertise, kindness and past experiences. She is “a true advocate and a mother hen to all.” Even during college planning sessions and other events, she manages to give specific attention to each student. It is clear that Lisa-Brown is a helpful resource and an inspiration to her peers and colleagues, just as she is to parents and students.
In fact, she provides her time for endeavors beyond college planning. As Yao remembers, “she has encouraged and supported my community service in many ways,” and has even assisted him in receiving publicity from local and national news. When she could have just stuck to advising Yao on college or post-high school matters, Lisa-Brown showed her dedication and personal interest by helping him with community service and extracurricular pursuits.
Yao comments that she encourages her students while considering each person’s own strengths and weaknesses and will even plan schedules to around everyone’s needs. Throughout her career as a counselor, she has made her job “a personal mission and commitment to each and every one of her students.” Lisa-Brown manages to do her job well, helping and considering each particular student and exactly what that student needs.