Helping students is job one for Euans
Helping students is job one for Euans
By Becky Walz
For South Winn’s Connie Euans, being a counselor isn’t all about scheduling classes or listening to students’ problems, it’s about helping the students prepare for adulthood.
On Monday, Nov. 4, Euans was honored as the 2013 Iowa High School Counselor of the Year, along with a middle school counselor, elementary counselor, and a K-12 counselor, at the Iowa School Counseling Conference in Des Moines.
“This honor brings tears to my eyes. We have great students, parents, administration and staff at South Winn that make it easy to love my job,” said Euans a day after learning she was receiving the award.
In her fourth year at South Winn, Euans learned that high school Principal Mary Recker nominated her for the award early in the 2013 school year when Recker asked her for a copy of her current resume.
Connie said at the time that she joked, “Do I need to be job hunting?”
Recker was quick to respond, “No, and don’t tell me I can’t do this, but I am nominating you for high school counselor of the year.”
On Thursday, Oct. 24, as Connie stood in front of a senior class discussing the students’ “I Have a Plan,” program, Recker was delighted to deliver the news that Euans had been selected.
The honoree said she has attended the conference numerous times and seen the awards handed out to other counselors over her 18-year career as a guidance counselor, but she never thought she would be a recipient.
Euans noted that every time she has attended a conference, she has returned to the district with a plethora of information.
“The conference is a wonderful platform for networking with other school counselors across the state. It is helpful to hear what other counselors are doing and to gain valuable insight and professional development. The title of this years conference is ‘Counselor. Educator. Advocate. Supporting the Whole Child.’,” added the Starmont alumna.
Euans finds that one of the biggest challenges she faces as a counselor is helping students that are needy. Whether the problems are personal, family, or economic, those things tug at her heartstrings.
The years behind the award
Euans first earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Upper Iowa University in 1994.
Her first teaching position was teaching fifth through eighth grade in one of the smallest Catholic schools in Iowa, St. Malachy Catholic School in Creston, where she taught everything from reading to social studies to art.
Her husband, Mike, was a park ranger in Adams County and by January 1995, Connie found herself being drawn to individual students that needed added assistance or those with behavior issues.
“Interestingly enough as a sophomore in high school, I had written a career paper which was an assignment by own high school guidance counselor Gayle Severson,” noted Euans.
By March 1995, Connie had applied to and been accepted into the graduate program at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo., about 60 miles from Creston. A week after finishing her year of teaching, she began graduate school.
Connie began the three-year program at an accelerated pace and received a graduate assistantship in the psychology department that enabled her to have her tuition waived, requiring her to pay only for her textbooks.
By 1996, Connie received a conditional license and was hired at Lenox Community School as the K-12 counselor, and she received her master’s degree in May 1997. She spent another year at Lenox before joining her husband in Calmar after he took a position with the Iowa State Patrol.
Fortunately for her, Dave Koopman, a veteran 34-year 7-12 guidance counselor at Postville submitted his plan to retire in January 1998; Connie was offered the position and eventually spent 12 years in the Postville district before coming to South Winn four years ago.
“Although I started my professional career as an elementary teacher with a K-12 master’s degree in guidance, I have always found myself enjoying the high school students,” said Euans.
She finds the biggest difference between the grade levels to be scholarships, career and college searching, and preparation for adulthood — simply preparing high school students for the next big step. At the elementary level, counselors work with students on developmentally appropriate skills such as decision-making, friendship and begin the career exploration process.
“I am beyond excited and I think there are many counselors out there in this state that I feel are equally deserving of this award,” concluded Euans.