It is not unusual for counselors to have several students from the same family on their caseload. For School Counselor Stephanie Payne, her experiences with three students in the same family was the subject of an encouraging note from mom.
This Week's Storyteller
Stephanie Payne is in her 25th year as a school counselor, spending 20 years at Carmel High School and five years at Northwest High School in central Indiana. She graduated from IUPUI’s Counselor Education program in 1997. Stephanie is married and has a daughter who will graduate from Westfield High School this spring. In her free time she enjoys being a soccer mom, scrapbooking, spending time on their boat, and going to Florida.
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November is the month for remembering to be grateful, so as we go into another week, thank you for being a part of the Encouraging Words for School Counselors podcast. I’m Matt Fleck with Inspire Success.
We asked you, our listeners, to participate in our Sharing Thanks series this month by relaying a story about a note from a student or parent that is particularly meaningful for you. Stephanie Payne, from Carmel High School in central Indiana, received one of those notes last year from a parent of not one, but three students in Stephanie’s caseload.
This was during National School Counseling Week this past winter when I got this note from a parent and, and she talked about how much I had helped her oldest daughter.
Stephanie connected this eldest child of the family with a recruiter for the College of Education at Indiana University and things clicked – so much so that the student graduated last spring with a teaching degree.
At the same time, the younger son had graduated in 2020 and had started college at IU. And apparently I had made the dinner conversation at some point during their family dinners. Apparently he often would talk about the teachers that were really important to him or who had done something. And somehow, I guess I fell into that. He’s a student I only saw maybe once a year, maybe another time here and there for scheduling and that sort of thing. He wasn’t a student that necessarily needed a lot of help, but apparently I had made an impact with him along the way.
This second child in the family was one of those students who was well liked and had tons of potential but got senioritis, so Stephanie pushed and nudged, as counselors do, and the student graduated and made it into college. Sadly, the student had an undiagnosed medical condition and passed away about a year ago when he was home for Christmas break.
He was a kid that had made a big impact with a lot of teachers, so I did a lot of counseling in that regard. And this mom was writing notes, not only to me, but also to other teachers and that was really, I think, helping her through the grieving process. And making sure that — the teachers and myself — we knew how much of an impact we had made with her kids.
Stephanie is now the counselor of the third child in the same family — not only supporting her in school this year but also helping her through the grieving process for her brother. It’s one of the reasons Stephanie received such a kind note from the mother of all three students.
[Reads] I wanted to take an extra moment this week to recognize you for counselor appreciation week. Our family has been truly blessed to have you as a counselor for our two children, as well as for our youngest child next year. We are reassured to know that she has you for guidance and support with all she and our family has endured this year. Thank you for all you do for all CHS students and especially our children. You are very appreciated.
So sometimes when parents are talking about us, it might actually be in a positive light — even if we know nothing about it.
It really is an indication that even, you know, one little interaction could really mean a lot to a student that you might even make the dinner conversation that night.
[laughs] Hopefully in a good way.
[laughs] Yes! Hopefully in a good way.
Thanks, Stephanie. We appreciate you and all of the counselors who provided stories for us during our Sharing Thanks series.
In December, we’re looking for any holiday stories you have from school. Last year we heard some doozies! So rack your brains, think back on past holidays, and let us know what funny or touching story you’d like to share, and we’ll get it recorded. All you have to do is send me a short note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take care of the rest.
A quick reminder to tell your friends about the Encouraging Words for School Counselors podcast (you never know, a fellow counselor might need a little pick-me-up) and be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast app.
Have a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving! We’ll be back next week.