Remembering How We Survived the Past School Year (#46)

The pandemic forced all of us to reach deep within ourselves to muster confidence, be creative, and find comic methods of relief. South Dakota School Counseling and Career Development Specialist Andrea Diehm did all of these things as she shared her reflections earlier this school year.

Inspiring School Counselors
Remembering How We Survived the Past School Year (#46)

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

From (and with our thanks to) Sara Holmberg, MS, NCC, NCSC (National Certified School Counselor) at Dell Rapids Middle School. 

You can reach Sara by email at

See also:

This Week's Storyteller

Andrea Diehm is nearing her ninth year in the school counseling profession and has been employed at the South Dakota Department of Education for five years, serving school counselors throughout the state. She is passionate in uniting, supporting, and empowering school counselors.

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Matt Fleck:
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Encouraging Words for School Counselors. I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success. We’ve pulled a humorous story from our archives this week. It’s from Andrea Diehm who is the School Counseling and Career Development Specialist at the South Dakota Department of Education. 

When we talked with Andrea it was at the height of the pandemic, so we started with a question about COVID 19.

How, how have you been coping? 

Andrea Diehm:
I’ve been doing great. So, I’ve been working from home and — which is awesome. I sleep in an extra half hour than I would if I drive into work, fitness has been taking more of a priority and I love that. And I mean, I’m coping very well. So, one of my things I did since the end of March is I’ve been making homemade cards — like pop-up cards, just random. And then I’ve been sending them to friends or family that I don’t see all the time. And so not only do they get something in the mail, which we all love, but it has that homemade touch. So obviously I hope they feel good, but then for me, I feel just as good about doing that.

I love that idea! That is really creative. What creative ideas have you heard about from schools who are doing virtual counseling or any kind of different things with COVID?

The most creative ideas that I’ve been hearing about is really trying to get more of the game focus in there for activities. And it’s not necessarily like, Hey, I’m programming filler, but it’s really to help put some normalcy in the lives for these kids so that they feel more like I’ve got someone that’s here for me. And we know that home lives are all different for all of our kiddos. So some of them need to feel like they have that ally, even if they’re not in person with them. 

And so I saw a lot of cool activities and games people are using virtually. There’s a really, really good one. If it takes any Google sheet and they’re already formatted, they turn them into like Mad Libs, Bingo, all different kinds of types of activities and that’s called Flippity. So that one I think would be phenomenal. So you could use that, not just for games, but also as part of your classroom instruction.

I have some school counselors that are looking into the Bitmoji slides. So one of them — she’s a middle school counselor — actually made a Bitmoji Google slide that has links to all of these resources over the summer for students and parents.  

We have three links to Sara Holmberg’s virtual middle school lesson plans – all done with bitmojis via Google Slides – on our website at also a link to Flippity which – if you haven’t checked it out – is another one of those amazing apps for all things virtual. 

Andrea, of course, is well known and well respected in South Dakota – and is always the ultimate professional…with just a few exceptions…

As part of my job, I want to support school counselors throughout the state of South Dakota. And so one way I thought, you know, trying to wing it to try to give support when schools just close, we’re all in kind of panic mode. And so I decided, Hey, I’ll have collaboration meetings virtually for any full counselors that want to join in. And I’ll just type notes as we go on a Google doc, but I’ll share my screen so they can see that and follow along. And so we started talking about games that you can do virtually with students to give more interaction and kind of relationship building, de-stressing. So they’re naming off all these games. Someone said, Battleship, I started typing it and I didn’t realize it for a while, but I actually put in a T instead of a P and so it just hung out there on the screen for a bit. And I think I provided a lot of comic relief for all the viewers.  

It’s a fun story. It reminds me of the viral video of the individual providing a deposition who accidentally had the kitten filter on his Zoom broadcast who felt it was important to clarify that he was not a cat. Comic relief truly helped over the last school year. 

And though I don’t follow social media closely I’ve been uplifted by some of the stories and memes on Instagram and other social media platforms. One post I read earlier this year said, “If a teacher (or counselor) falls in a forest, and there is no one else around to hear, can they just stay there awhile and finally get some rest?” By the way you can find us on Instagram at inspiresuccess – all one word – just put the number “1” in place of the first “i”

Like many of us, Andrea not only kept a positive attitude through the difficulties of the past year, she realized there may actually have been some good things that came out of Covid. 

Definitely some silver linings coming out of this pandemic. I think in some ways it’s helped people maybe root in a little bit more into themselves, tap into their creativity, maybe do some things that they’ve been wanting to do and never had the time to do. I hear that people are spending way more time with family or like their kids than they ever have been able to. So there’s a silver lining to everything. We just have to look for it.

Thanks Andrea. Hey by the way, summer is a GREAT time to share a story with us from the past year. We’re preparing new podcasts for this fall so visit our online soundbooth at, or drop me an email with a note at, and share with us a favorite story from the past year. Oh, and, if you’re going to the ASCA National Conference, find us at booth 804 and come say hello.

So long, have a great week.