Honoring Retiring Counselors

LSS Mentoring Services works closely with school counselors in our partner schools.

Left to Right: Deb Harkless, Valerie Horacek and Andree Johnson. Not Pictured, Sue Albert.

Left to Right: Deb Harkless, Valerie Horacek and Andree Johnson. Not Pictured, Sue Albert.

This month, four dedicated school counselors are retiring from the district. They include Valerie Horacek from Hawthorne, Andree Johnson from Jefferson, Deb Harkless from LBA and Sue Albert from Whittier. Collectively, these four women have contributed 92 years of professional service to students. We appreciate the time and energy each person has brought to help promote and sustain mentoring in their schools.

We asked each to reflect on their careers, in particular their time spent working with LSS Mentoring Services. They all commented that getting to know mentors has been a highlight of working with the program. They are amazed at the volunteer effort that mentors bring to their students.

When asked about the growth they have seen in students with a mentor, all remarked that there is something special between dedicated mentors and students. Val commented on a specific memory of a mentor and student from ten years ago. A student had mentors leave for various reasons in the past. The mentor asked what the students favorite football team was, and when the student said the Broncos, the mentor replied, “well, that is your problem.” The students face lit up and he had a huge grin. In an instant, the mentor made that student feel special and important. Deb currently works with a mentor who is deployed to Afghanistan. This mentor has made it possible to Skype with his student while serving our country abroad. The conversations they are able to have are special!

We also asked if the counselors had any advice to mentors or other counselors, and they all talked about the importance of relationships. Sue encouraged people to give it a try and for mentors to take note of the differences the experience has made on themselves and their student. Andree said, “Mentoring is all about building relationships, so as a mentor, give yourself time. You may not feel connected immediately but, don’t get discouraged, it will happen.”

We wish Val, Deb, Andree and Sue the best in their retirement! Many said they are looking forward to spending time with their grandchildren and all are open to new adventures that retirement will hopefully bring. THANKS for your dedication to students and to your support of LSS Mentoring Services. You will be missed!

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