July 19, 2018
School & Youth
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  • Jacobsville guidance counselor Donna Kennedy was surprised with flowers and recognition of her work at an all-school assembly during National Guidance Counseling Week. Jags, the school mascot, helped her celebrate.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Jacobsville guidance counselor Donna Kennedy was surprised with flowers and recognition of her work at an all-school assembly during National Guidance Counseling Week. Jags, the school mascot, helped her celebrate.

Jacobsville Elementary Honors Guidance Counselor

Maya Pottiger
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February 20, 2018
At an all-school assembly, Jacobsville guidance counselor Donna Kennedy received a surprise.
 
In honor of National Guidance Counseling Week, Kennedy was surprised with flowers and overall recognition of her contributions to the school.
 
Laura Walton, a special education teacher at Jacobsville, organized the surprise.
 
“We wanted to especially recognize Mrs. Kennedy for the many things she does above and beyond the work she does regarding character education at Jacobsville,” Walton said.
 
Before she transitioned to guidance counselor, Kennedy was a special education teacher for 20 years. She said the biggest draw to switching roles was opportunity and getting to know all of the students as opposed to a small group.
 
“I just love working with small groups of the underachieving kids, trying to get them to where they need to be. But you do that as a counselor, too,” Kennedy said. “It’s the emotional and social and all that mixed in, plus the academics. The opportunity was there, and I just love working with all the kids.”
 
Though there are nearly 600 students at Jacobsville, Kennedy knows all of their names.
 
“I do small groups where I get to know the kids, and I’m in charge of so many things where kids are helping me,” Kennedy said. “By the time they get to fifth grade, I know them very well. It’s daily interaction.”
 
Kennedy has helped implement many programs around the school, including a Wall of Heroes, a Student Government Association and a branch of the Girls on the Run program.
 
The Wall of Heroes goes up for Veterans Day. Students are invited to bring in photos of family members that are in the military or have a service job like police officer or firefighter.
 
“We do this whole Wall of Heroes around Veterans Day, and we keep it up for the whole month,” Kennedy said. “The pictures the kids bring in, it’s cousins and fathers and grandfathers.”
 
The Student Government Association is open to third- through fifth-graders. It gives students the opportunity to meet with Principal April Umile to let her know how things are going and what ideas they have, Kennedy said.
 
Most of the students’ ideas are “reasonable,” Kennedy said, and they have been pushing for a bike rack.
 
“Kids need to take responsibility. Part of your environment is what you make it. If there are problems, you’re all part of talking about it,” Kennedy said.
 
In 2012, Kennedy and another teacher started Jacobsville’s branch of the Girls on the Run program. Every day, there’s an exercise activity and a lesson on building girls up more positively.
 
“We really believe in the program. It’s to build girls’ self esteem through the use of running and exercise,” Kennedy said.
 
Though she thought she would be a special education teacher “forever,” Kennedy said she is happy about the opportunity to be involved with the school on another level.
 
“I love this school, I live in the Pasadena community, and this is the perfect opportunity,” Kennedy said. “I’m able to stay at my school, work with people I already know and love, and it’s a great group of kids.”

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