Gabrielle Isom, recipient of the Alumni Association Board Scholarship-UMKC School of Education, was one of more than 60 students recognized at the School of Education’s annual Scholar Donor Luncheon in September for earning scholarships that help them pursue their dreams, along with more than 40 individual, family, non-profit and corporate donors who financially make those dreams possible.
Selected as one of the guest speakers, Isom stressed to the audience the importance of building relationships with students. In her second year of pursuing a master’s degree in Counseling with an emphasis in School Counseling, Isom learned as an undergraduate that her passion for teaching “wasn’t in reading or math, but in ways that reach deeper into a child’s behavior and thinking.”
Having worked as a Para Title 1 at Kennedy Elementary School in Kansas City, Ks., last spring leading small group interventions in math and reading, Isom realized how crucial it was for students to have a professional counselor in their own school.
“The students I worked with struggled, not only in reading in math, but in relationships at home and school, the way they looked at the future, their plans for college or a career, and many other areas,” Isom explained. “The school I was working in did not have a full-time counselor. There were a few times as a para where I sat with a child having a breakdown in the hallway while the school tried to reach the counselor at her other building to come and help.”
After Isom spent time with two school counselors at different elementary schools during a practicum experience, she realized they had her dream job.
“They were able to go into a classroom and teach about topics that are relevant, important and that promote a growth mindset. Character education, bully prevention, drug and alcohol education, lessons on how to be a great friend or how to calm anxiety before a test were all lessons they delivered to groups of young students.
She continued, “Not only are school counselors able to speak in classrooms, but they also develop programs that inspire, encourage, and raise children to new levels. They meet with students one-on-one, in small groups, in the hallways, during lunchtime, and when they get off the bus. They encourage children to reach their goals, to dream big and start small.”
Isom views professional school counselors as a vital and steady pulse in a school.
“School counselors do even more than I ever imagined,” she explained. “They also rely heavily on all other areas of education, such as administration, teachers, custodians, food service providers, paraprofessionals, social workers, office administrators and so many more caring adults in education. The students we all work with are the not future of America, they are the right-now-living-and-breathing world-changers we have the privilege of working with.”