Sheena French, seventh grade school counselor at the Milford Middle School, received the award for 2011 Kent County Counselor of the Year in February. At a ceremony at Wilmington University, Dover Campus, Mrs. French took home this professional honor her first year eligible for the award.
“Surprised is quite an understatement,” commented Sheena. “I felt very honored but also very humble. I work with so many counselors through DSAA workshops who I feel are really quality professionals in this state.”
One month later, there are still student-made signs hanging on the walls of the Middle School throughout the hallways. As Mrs. French walked in to her first lunch duty after receiving the award her students greeted her with a standing ovation.
“To see my kids proud of me was truly an amazing experience. I don’t do this job for any recognition but it feels good to be appreciated,” stated Mrs. French.
Sheena graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology & Sociology and from Wilmington University with a Masters in Elementary and Secondary School Counseling. Recently, she received the Post Master’s Certificate in Child & Family Counseling. She is a certified school counselor for the state of Delaware, a member of the American School Counselor Association, and the Middle School Vice-President of the Delaware School Counselor Association Board.
Her introduction to the field of counseling came when Nicole Durkin, Principal of the Middle School at the time, asked Sheena to be the head speaker for the eighth grade graduation to speak about leadership through her experience of Miss Delaware, USA. After the graduation Mrs. French had a chance to speak one-on-one with students and listen to their concerns. “At that moment I thought to myself, if that is what I did every day it would be perfect,” commented Mrs. French. Sheena then cancelled a modeling contract in Hawaii and enrolled that August at Wilmington University.
“From the outside my job is nowhere as glamorous or lucrative as possibilities that could have arisen from Miss USA, but my job is more rewarding than anything else I could ever do,” stated Sheena. “I am exactly where I want to be.”
Sheena wears many hats during a single days work and would hardly say there is a routine. The job is reactionary at some levels, dealing with situations that kids are dealing with, but also has moved in the direction of focusing on preventative programs. There is a big push throughout the district to help resolve conflicts before there becomes a problem.
“Many kids do not get the proper tools of anger management and coping skills to deal with everyday situations from home. Many of the problems arise from miscommunication at home and I feel it is my job to teach them those skills and help open communications between them and their families,” stated Mrs. French.
Since her first year as a school counselor Sheena has seen the introduction of two new projects in the Milford schools. The anti-bullying program, where students and parents learn the dangers of bullying at school and online, and the Business, Industries Education Program which introduces students to career opportunities to help relate future employment to their studies.
“These programs help the students learn that their decisions that they make now, impact their future,” commented Sheena. “For these kids, college seems so far away but they need to understand that what they are doing in middle school will help them as an adult.”
Continuing her tenure at the Milford Middle School Mrs. French is focused on students and helping them deal with adolescence. Teaching confidence, communication, and self-awareness is essential to her connection with her students. “I enjoy working in the middle school. You will always know where you stand with Middle School kids,” commented Sheena.
In April Mrs. French will be attending the Delaware School Counselor Spring Conference where she will be nominated for Counselor of the Year for the State of Delaware.