The Perham-Dent School district celebrated National Guidance Counselor week as they honored the staff of Perham-Dent Schools and Lakeland Mental Health for their work with the students and community during the week of Feb. 1-5.
The teams at Perham-Dent consist of Brooklyn Thompson, Katie Grosz, Jen Bain, and Jenny Lindstrom. They work with members of Lakeland Mental Health which consists of Courtney Rooney, McKenna Meyer, Sage Becklund-Erickson, and Angie Schreader.
Perham High School Principal Ehren Zimmerman, Prairie Wind Middle School Principal Scott Bjerke and Heart of the Lakes Elementary Principal Liz Johnson all praised their staff and efforts.
Zimmerman said the counselors are the heartbeat of support for our students and families. He stated they have an outstanding team of counselors at Perham High School and throughout the district.
Bjerke praised the work of Grosz and staff. Bjerke said in a very short time, Grosz has developed a reputation for establishing nurturing and caring relationships with all students at PWMS.
Johnson said counselors are a critical piece of providing support for our students’ emotional well-being and while assisting our families, connecting them with resources and supports within our community. She added the counselors provide an invaluable service that is much needed and appreciated.
While the staff at the Perham-Dent School District Counseling Office and Lakeland Mental Health took different paths to Perham, they all said working with kids and helping kids are one of their favorite things to do.
McKenna Meyer, who works at the Prairie Wind Middle School through Lakeland Mental Health, said the kids are so resilient and they show up every day with a smile.
“My favorite thing was how welcoming everyone was,” Meyer said. “I felt like I fit right in and I didn’t have to worry, my coworkers are great.”
Grosz, who works at the PWMS, echoed Meyer’s statement about the staff and said her favorite thing was working individually with students and helping them navigate life and find those healthy coping skills and watching them succeed.
“It’s always fun to see when they reach their goals,” Grosz said. “I love being able to support them along the way and be that person they can come to any time they feel comfortable if they need someone to listen.”
At the HOTL, the staff consists of LMHC’s Sage Becklund-Erickson, along with Perham-Dent’s Brooklyn Thompson and Jenny Lindstrom.
Thompson said it has been a crazy year starting during the COVID-19 Pandemic. She said it has taught her to be more flexible and go with the flow. She said her coworkers have been great and they have had to find ways to become creative with the pandemic but have made it a great environment. She also said the kids have played a role in helping her as well.
“The kids have helped me this year as I have had to stay on my toes. It’s always nice to come to school and see their smiling faces,” Thompson said. “They just love to be at school, see their teachers and be ready to learn. It has made my job more enjoyable. It has been a tough year, but it has been so great to be welcomed into the school like I have.”
Lindstrom has worked with kids of all ages and is back working with elementary students at HOTL, and she said her favorite thing was the ability to connect with kids at the elementary level.
“I’ve worked with students from all grade levels and there are different things I love and appreciate about every age, but there is something that’s close to my heart with the little ones and it’s fun to connect with elementary students,” Lindstrom said. “My favorite thing is the direct contact and direct work with students. It is just extremely rewarding to be a helpful support to students. It’s also really enjoyable getting to know the families too, and that’s really critical to building good relationships, not only with the students, but the important grownups in their lives.”
The high school staff features LMHC’s Rooney and Schreader, along with the school district’s Bain. They said they enjoy being in the school and working with kids.
“We get the best of both worlds. We are with teachers, with kids and we have great admin here,” Rooney said. “I think the best thing about being in the school is the flexibility piece. Unlike a counseling office where you make an appointment at a certain time or day, the kid may have had a hard night or grueling day and I get a call, I can see them in that moment. It’s that teachable moment and helps them feel a bit better and help them focus on their academics.”
Bain started in a role as a teacher with the district and eventually moved into the guidance counselor spot. She said it is different every day and can be unpredictable, which she said can be a blessing and a curse.
“I enjoy talking to juniors and seniors and helping them create a career path and helping them figure out what they want to do in life. That is one of the best things I get to do,” Bain said. “It is rewarding to see that (kids achieve their goals). Some are so eager to get into the next step and it is rewarding and fun to see that. It is rewarding to help them explore some of their options and bring up some things they haven’t necessarily thought of and find out about themselves.”
Schreader said she really enjoys working with teens and helping them discover their full potential, despite the hurdles they may be experiencing in their own lives. She added she is thankful to work with such wonderful staff in the district.
The guidance counselors and staff at Lakeland Mental Health Center work with students and staff in a variety of diverse ways and the Perham-Dent School District appreciates all their time and effort they put in for the students at the school district.
Visit www.perhamschools.org/departments/counseling for more information on the guidance counselors