School: Waresboro Elementary School
School District: Ware County Schools
City, State: Waycross, GA
Misty Burchett was nominated by her principal, Jenny Barnes.
Mrs. Burchett is a school counselor like no other. People always say that dynamite comes in small packages, and this holds true for Mrs. Burchett. She is tiny, but she is fierce.
"I've never met another school counselor who works so hard to make a beneficial difference in the lives of her students," said Barnes. "Mrs. Burchett has a clinical background, and she has woven that clinical experience into the culture of our school to help the many students in our population who have experienced multiple traumatic events in their lives. Our school has a student population with very high needs. They've experienced events in their lives that many would consider unsurmountable, but not Mrs. Burchett. She believes in every student and knows how resilient kids are. Whether it is through group and individual counseling, sand therapy, art therapy, lunch clubs, puzzles, or drawing, Mrs. Burchett knows how to reach the hardest to reach students. And oh, how they love her!"
Because Mrs. Burchett is so willing to work to make a positive difference in the lives of her students, she has added positively to her school's overall culture. Waresboro Elementary has received a perfect 5 star school climate rating since Mrs. Burchett arrived 3 years ago. Her positive attitude and servant heart is one of the primary reasons her school sustains this positive culture. When she lifts students up, she is also uplifting the teachers and other faculty members.
Teachers have an incredibly hard job, and Mrs. Burchett makes it easier for them by nurturing and supporting the students in their classes. This makes their jobs easier and helps students succeed academically, emotionally, and socially. One example of an amazing initiative Mrs. Burchett put into place in each classroom was the establishment of Cool Down Boxes. She worked with a local mental health agency to create boxes for each classroom teacher. The boxes contained different objects to help students cool down when they become angry, anxious or upset. These items include pinwheels students can blow to help them take deep breaths, fidget items for students who need to move and click things, bouncy bands for ADHD students to put their feet on during learning, and numerous other items.
"Moreover, I’ve been in dozens of meetings with Mrs. Burchett and personally watched her use her clinical connections to get appointments for families who need mental health care for their student," said Barnes. "She is truly a child advocate on every level, and a champion for seeing that the marginalized community of people needing mental health care are able to have access to it. This is a great example of the high moral and ethical standards she has in regards to her profession."
Mrs. Burchett is also one of the most humble people one could meet. Her heart is never self-righteous or judgemental. Instead, she is always working to find common ground with her students and families so she can earn their trust and help them succeed. Seeing her students and families make progress towards success not only makes her happy, but motivates her each day.
"As a school principal, I can honestly say she is one of the most integral members of my leadership team. She is my right arm, my partner, and my friend," said Barnes. "I love her and wish every child in this nation, in this world, could have someone like Misty Burchett in their corner. For these reasons, and so many more, is why Mrs. Misty Burchett is truly the epitome of a LifeChanger, not just of this year, but every single day."