WEST MILTON — Paula Shaw has been at Milton-Union High School for 17 years as counselor and now has a new accolade to add to her resume — 2015-2016 School Counselor of the Year.
She learned the news when she had a group of students working in her office and checked her email. Shaw said she did not believe it was real and called a counselor from another school to come over and look at the email.
On a daily basis, Shaw has a multitude of responsibilities, including helping with college applications, setting up and accompanying students on college visits, being there to listen and provide a safe place for students to come.
“I think that the most important role for counselors is to be an advocate for the kids,” she said. “In school you have a lot of responsibilities, and my main responsibilities are the kids and being with them.”
Students can get help, relax and de-stress at the guidance office, a working dynamic Shaw is grateful to have in the high school.
“I don’t think ours (guidance office) has a negative connotation, like ‘oh, you’re coming to see the counselor’ like it’s a bad thing,” she said.
Shaw’s biggest contribution is her role in Freshman Focus, which began in 2007 and is now a nationally recognized program. The program was the subject of a recent study by Wright State University, which showed how the student-led freshman transition program worked excellently with the incoming high school students.
Overall, in her role, Shaw makes sure that her students know she is there for them, has faith in their abilities, respects them and treats them as her own.
“I think a lot of times, some of the kids who come to school have not been around people who have a lot of faith in them or respect, so I give them that,” she said. “I want them to say that I was honest with them, that I listened to them, that I respected them, and that I was there for them at every turn of the way.”
Principal Scott Bloom said he has worked with a lot of guidance counselors, all of whom are wonderful with students, but Shaw understands how to make a connection with each student and praised her for going above and beyond to help prepare students for life as a whole.
“There are literally thousands of kids out there who are better because they have worked with her as a counselor,” he said.
Shaw called herself blessed to have received the award for the job she loves.
“It’s a gift that I never want to take for granted,” she said. “I learn something everyday from the kids that I work with, from freshmen to seniors. My student leaders teach me a lot every day and I’m very blessed to come to work and have the kids that I have.”
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Troydailynews.