National School Counseling Week 2023 is Feb. 6-10, 2023, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within school systems. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. National School Counseling Week is always celebrated the first full week in February. The theme this year is “Dream Big.”
In our rural parish, we have several tremendous counselors that go above and beyond their job duties to ensure that each student’s needs are met. This week we are honoring those counselors with a spotlight in our local paper.
Jonesboro Hodge Elementary School boasts two counselors that work with our students, with one counselor focusing on services for students which are specifically for Wrap Around schools. If you are not familiar with Wrap Around, it is the idea of focusing on the child as a whole. These services are focused on academics, of course, but also include maintaining a Family Resource Center, which has clothing, hygiene products, food, etc., as well as specifically working with students and parents on attendance issues, behavior, social-emotional issues, as well as physical needs. The Wrap Around counselor also provides counseling sessions with students in order to improve their social skills, self-control, and behavior.
Tristen Bergholtz is the Wrap Around counselor for JHES and she has brought her expertise and knowledge to JHES. She hails from Florida with her undergraduate degree from the University of Central Florida and her graduate degree from our own Louisiana State University! She has been in education for the past 10 years and began her career as a special education teacher before moving to counseling. Mrs. Bergholtz is a Louisiana Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor and her goals at JHES are to help improve the academic, attendance, and social-emotional development of all students. She is hopeful in the future that every school counselor in Louisiana will have the opportunity to provide students with a comprehensive school counseling program. Going with the theme of School Counseling Week, Mrs. Bergholtz stated, “Big dreams are accomplished by taking lots of little steps, one at a time.” She loves working with students and helping them discover that they have the tools needed to achieve their goals. Mrs. Bergholtz’s hobbies include reading, hiking, and of course, spending time with her family. Her husband, Benjamin Bergholtz, and their three children currently reside in Ruston, LA. She loves her Tiger Family!!
Jonesboro Hodge Elementary’s school counselor, Rachelle Mason, has had an enormous impact on the school for the past six years. She stays busy with scheduling, state testing, as well as special populations accommodations. Mrs. Mason also is the counselor for Jonesboro Hodge Middle School. She juggles the responsibilities of each school with finesse and grace. Although she has very little time to complete all her duties at both schools, she is continually patient and kind to everyone she works with, especially taking time to help students to be successful. Kudos to Mrs. Mason for taking on the task of counselor for two amazing schools. Mrs. Mason loves both of her schools and is a fighting Tiger for her students!!
Nestled next to the Jackson Parish School Board office is Jonesboro Hodge High School. A school renowned for its amazing sports history, as well as having students that have graduated and spent their lives improving our fine parish. Our wonderful counselor at JHHS is Debbie Connor. Ms. Connor knows the educational arena well, as she has been in education for over 40 years. This veteran educator is originally from Winnfield, Louisiana, of which Winn Parish has been our sports rival for many years. She now calls Jonesboro home. Ms. Connor graduated from NSU in Natchitoches, Louisiana with several certifications, which include secondary mathematics, and secondary business education, as well as a Master’s degree in guidance and counseling. She assists students with the “Dream Big” theme by helping them make a post-secondary plan for their future while they are still enrolled in high school. Her goal is to provide support to students, parents, and staff at JHHS. Ms. Connor loves to interact with students in her job capacity and help them plan for their future. “I enjoy supporting them while they work toward their goals,” she stated. Her personal goal is to serve as a productive Christian member of the community and travel to as many new places as possible. Her interests and hobbies include mission work, puzzles, traveling, visiting family and friends, and meeting new people of other cultures. She loves to observe their living styles and how they interact with others. Ms. Connor is a calm leader in the storm, but a fighting Tiger on the field! Fight the good fight!
Quitman High School is a rural school that sits off of highway 167 in Quitman, Louisiana. It serves over 800 students and boasts of many accomplishments, including academics and sports. A huge part of their success is due to their school counselor, Kasie Woods. Mrs. Woods is a Quitman hometown native and has been in education for over 20 years. She received her degrees from Louisiana Tech University and currently has a Master’s in School Counseling. She has been in her current position as a school counselor for the last 5 years. Mrs. Woods taught pre-kindergarten for 15 years before moving into counseling. She stated the best part of her position is working with students and helping them to reach their highest potential, which is the most rewarding part of her day. She plans on continuing her career as a counselor. Mrs. Woods, her husband Jay, and their two children currently live in Ansley, Louisiana. Mrs. Woods is a fearless QHS leader. Go Wolverines!!
Dr. Deona Austin recently joined the Wolverine pack at QHS. She has been a counselor for 28 years. She began her career many years ago in Jonesboro, LA, and returned recently to our parish. Dr. Austin has degrees in English Education, Human Relations and Supervision, Secondary School Counseling, and Administrator Leadership for Teaching and Learning. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University and Walden University. Dr. Austin is a member of the Louisiana Counseling Association, Louisiana School Counselor Association, and Alpha Delta Kappa International Honorary Organization for Women Educators. She is active in Zion Hill Baptist Church. Her accomplishments include National Counselor Certification and National School Counselor Certification. Dr. Austin teaches educational psychology at Northwestern State University. Her husband of 33 years is Paul Austin. They have five children, and nine grandchildren, and reside in Winnfield, LA. She has a mini dachshund named Chip. Dr. Austin is an exceptional pack leader in the field of counseling.
Situated just off Highway 4 East in Jackson Parish is the small community of Weston. This community supports Weston High School with its student population of nearly 700 in grades pre-k through 12. Weston is located between Jonesboro and Chatham, Louisiana, and is approximately 8 miles from Jonesboro. WHS has bragging rights in baseball, softball, and basketball, as well as academics. At this exceptional school, two counselors report for duties each day.
Our counselors are supported by their principals at each school which is: JHES-Ms. Danielle Copeland, JHMS-Mr. Brent Carpenter, JHHS-Ms. Chevonda Leonard, QHS-Mr. Billy Carter, and WHS-Mr. Ritchie Tolar. We appreciate the support you have given to our school counselors!
Do something nice for your counselors the week of February 6-10, 2023. They deserve it!
Jackson Parish School District Counselors
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