State standardized testing is approaching, and guidance counselor Beth Justesen at Hodges Elementary spent part of her Wednesday morning talking to students about steps they can take to ensure they’re ready.
Classroom lessons are just one part of what Justesen does every day.
Those efforts were honored recently when Justesen was named teacher of the year for Greenwood County School District 50.
“I’m still so humbled and honored and just super excited to represent our district,” Justesen said Wednesday.
“I’ve gotten lots of just congratulations and so much support. And I truly appreciate it. So I’m just still, I guess, kind of on cloud nine.”
She said she’s looking forward to making connections with teachers and helping to be a voice for them and the district.
Justesen began her teaching career in a neighboring county, but moved to District 50 to teach third-grade at Lakeview Elementary. She taught in the classroom for about five years.
“But as I was teaching … it was a challenge to meet the emotional needs of my students, but also the standards that I was required to teach to, which we have to have, I get, but it was hard to meet the needs of both,” she said.
She was looking to further her education, too, and counseling was a “natural fit,” she said.
The job gives her the chance to address emotional aspects with children, but also still teach. She does classroom guidance in each class once a month.
“The best part of my job is there’s no typical day,” Justesen said.
“And that’s what I like, I like change and kind of rolling with stuff and coming up with ways to adjust and fix and help.”
She spends her morning in the front hallway greeting students as they come into the school.
She gets to know kids and sees certain ones every day.
“Students feel comfortable talking to me if there’s something going on, I get to know them and read them so if I see him come in the hallway in the morning and they’re not their normal self, I’m going to check in on them and see kind of what’s going,” she said.
She also teaches classes. The school uses Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective people and focus on a monthly habit each month.
“We focus on how this helps us in school, how this helps us outside of school — teaching skills not just that you can use within the walls of the school but for life,” she said.
Justesen said as a mom, she wants to be the type of counselor that she wants her kids to have every day.
“And that, really, is my driving force.”