Always interested in hearing people’s stories, Robin Valerius’s path led her to becoming a counselor and then to being named the 2018-19 High School Counselor of the Year by the Louisiana School Counselor Association (LSCA).
“I was just dumbfounded and shocked,” Valerius said of her award. “It never occurred to me this would happen.”
LSCA recently honored her among counselors named in elementary, middle-junior high, secondary and post-secondary levels. Their names will be submitted for consideration nationally with the American School Counselor Association.
Valerius’ career began as a teacher for three years in Miami, Fla., where she was born and raised. She came to New Orleans, got two master’s degrees and was hired in St. Charles Parish as a counselor nearly 20 years ago.
She expressed gratitude to Stephen Weber, former DHS principal, and current Principal Jason Madere for supporting the school’s counselors.
The Destrehan High School counselor was just doing what her father taught her “to make a difference” and it was directed by her interest in people’s minds and how they work.
She loves her job.
“The whole world is here. I can work with so many different students with a variety of needs.”- Robin Valerius
Valerius recounted a recent talk with a student who started having high absences and poor grades, which she knew was contrary to what she’d known about her. She approached the student and asked if her plan was to drop out at age 18, which angered the student enough to turn her situation around.
She’s a junior now with a brighter future.
“That little shove made the difference,” she said. “The intelligence was always there for her, but now she sees herself more clearly. In tough times, they tend to lose sight of the bright places of hope in their lives and when you call attention to these places it helps them recognize their own strengths. The good is always there.”
She also attributes her success as a counselor to the St. Charles Parish school system, which she said is committed to education.
At DHS, she also deals with a variety of students by income, age and culture.
“The whole world is here,” she said. “I can work with so many different students with a variety of needs.”
As a counselor, Valerius said the award represents an opportunity to showcase a counselor’s work, which often has to be quiet, private work.
“Every day is different,” she said. “There are some days I’m presenting graduation information to classes and other days we talk about their graduation pathway, and then sitting with crying kids because they broke up with their boyfriend or reporting abuse to child protection.”
She calls it “hearts over paper,” where Valerius considers someone’s emotional status more important and brings the paperwork home.
“The job is intense, but we have a good counseling team,” she said. “I have a group of teachers that we lovingly refer to as ‘the second floor.’ These people have kept me sane and grounded, and without them this job would be absolutely undoable.”
What it takes to be a winning counselor
- Robin Valerius began her career in education in Miami, Fla.
- Valerius’ father instilled in her “to make a difference.”
- When it’s meant deciding to help a child over getting paperwork done, she chose to help the child and do the paperwork at home. She calls it “hearts over paper.”