Christine Hamm was nominated by her colleague, Kristen Hall.
"Throughout her career, she has demonstrated exceptional care for the students in our building. Christine keeps an attentive eye on every student who is lucky enough to have her as their counselor," said Hall.
At the very beginning of the year, Ms. Hamm meets with classes of students about her role as counselor. Students then take a survey about the needs they may have. Ms. Hamm collects the results and meets with all of those students individually, taking time to listen to them, no matter how hectic her days are. Some students may need to visit with her beyond that initial meeting. Ms. Hamm sets up meetings and follow-ups for those students. She then brings the concerns to the team of teachers. While she shares a lot with the teachers, she maintains a level of confidentiality, only sharing what the student is comfortable with her sharing.
Ms. Hamm meets with the teachers weekly, listening to their concerns about specific students and sharing what she knows. She follows up with students, parents and outside specialists when appropriate. She monitors them during lunch, looking for signs of a rough day, changing friend groups, and individual successes in and out of school. Ms. Hamm reaches out to the students, the parents and the team of teachers they work with to ensure they get care in every aspect of their lives.
"Because she sees students outside of our classrooms, she picks up on things they say and do," said Hall. "Christine shares in their day-to-day successes and struggles, developing strong relationships with students. They trust her, laugh with her and count on her for constant support."
Ms. Hamm helps students handle day-to-day middle school issues, such as break-ups and bad grades on a test, with a grace and seriousness that validates the students' concerns, no matter how trivial they seem to someone outside of the middle school world. She also helps students deal with more intense concerns, like mental illness, divorce and other family concerns, self-harm, and self-identity. They turn to her for help in a crisis, as well as someone who celebrates in their successes. Throughout everything, Ms. Hamm remains focused on who the individual child is and what they are feeling. When necessary, she immediately reaches out to other resources to envelope the child with more support.
Ms. Hamm works with a program called WEB - Where Everybody Belongs. This program offers two key points that Christine believes in strongly:
1) a seamless transition to middle school for 7th graders that sets them up for success academically and socially, and;
2) a school-wide culture promoting kindness and respect.
Ms. Hamm pushed for WEB to come to her school, and has continued as a program coordinator and one of its biggest advocates. She knows a culture of kindness and a sense of belonging are both crucial to student development. This is in addition to her additional district roles, where her expertise in caring for middle-age kids shines.
"What remains steadfast in all of her roles is a deep caring for the wellbeing of our students. Christine keeps our school focused on the importance of emotional and mental wellness of the individual kids," said Hall. "Christine Hamm, without fail, goes above and beyond to provide exceptional care and support to the kiddos in our building. Our students and teachers are lucky to work with such a life-changing counselor."