Well, I’m hanging on to the Teacher Appreciation theme for one more week…
Today, I would like to write an appreciation and a tribute again, and I am 100% biased in writing this blog. Heather Norton, school counselor at Sumner Hill, is retiring after 28.75 years, the last 21 years at Sumner Hill Jr. High School of the Clinton Public School District.
A little background… Heather finished at Mississippi State University in math education. She started her educational career at Morton Jr. High, teaching math. Then she moved to the Morton High School. Then she went to Pearl High School and finally settled as the school counselor at Sumner Hill. During her school counseling career, Heather has been associated with many professional counseling organizations at the state and national level and served in leadership positions. While she is and will be remembered as a math teacher for some, her legacy will be carved for her passion and the lives impacted by her love of counseling.
Heather’s to-do list of day-to-day counseling would make most people dizzy to read it. It amazes me. There are individual and small groups, peer leadership, helping with in-school clubs, after-school clubs, scheduling, character traits, new student meetings, parent meetings, student plans, encouragement, awards day ceremonies, reality fair, grant writing, testing, counseling, etc., you get the idea. From the school job descriptions to the ones she creates for herself, the students always come first. Her door and ear have always been open, taking an intentional interest in students’ well-being.
Heather’s M.O. for counseling comes from her servant’s heart and the sweet spirit she has. In many ways, her success comes from the students’ success by helping them meet their social and emotional needs. One great, current example is her involvement in All-Pro Dads and getting Tony Dungy to speak to the All-Pro Dads group at Sumner Hill this past spring, made possible by a grant she wrote. She always took every opportunity to go beyond what was asked and put others first.
Also, her advocacy for what a school counselor should be, is unprecedented. Heather is a staunch proponent for school counselors to be counselors. During school hours or afterward, it does not matter. Just like really good educators, we never stop being one, and neither does Heather as a school counselor. Students could easily tell that she was for them and their success. Imparting knowledge is good, but helping the whole child is what she strives to do. Thinking about it that way, isn’t that what education should be about anyway?
Her ability to work with faculty, staff, parents, and students over the years is one of the many reasons her life will spill over into others. She is one of the best at doing this because of her genuineness. As a counselor, she treats everyone with high expectations and finds value in them, traits that we all need more of, not only as educators but as humans as well. The climate and culture for school counseling she created is model worthy for schools and school counselors everywhere.
In closing, the world would be better if education had more Heather Nortons. My good friend Allen Marett and I jokingly say that he and I are “often imitated but never duplicated,” a phrase by an old wrestling tag team, “The Fabulous Ones.” But that phrase fits Heather Norton and her school counseling career better. She will be missed and most definitely, she will be often imitated but never duplicated.
Even though Heather is leaving the “school” side of counseling, let not your hearts be dismayed, Heather is still going to continue counseling in the private sector.
As stated in the beginning, I’m biased in writing this blog.
Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…
Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…
©2023 J Clay Norton
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