LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Karen Olsen

Position: School Counselor
School: Collinsville High School
School District: Collinsville School District
City, State: Collinsville, IL

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Music that Describes Karen

Karen Olsen was nominated by her colleague, TaRael Kee.

Ms. Olsen is the driving force of the counseling department at her school. She is the first counselor to arrive opening doors for everyone, and the last to leave. She's always willing to lend a hand to everyone in need. Ms. Olsen spends excessive hours working on the counseling program and other school functions.  She is incredible and has pioneered many programs that have continued to help students over the years.

Ms. Olsen leads by example.  She is always rolling up her sleeves getting work done. Her focus is unwavering throughout the school day.  No matter where she is, Ms. Olsen is always checking things off of her list. Because she is so focused on completing her goals, it allows her to do more for students and staff alike.  For example, the C3 committee desperately needed pictures for the Wall of Success, which highlights students who have achieved incredible things at Collinsville High School.  The committee was facing a tight deadline and needed parent permission slips and photographs of the students. Ms. Olsen saw that the committee was in need and went around gathering the permissions slips and photos for all of the students highlighted.  She not only gathered the information, but she created the board, and the Wall of Success was a hit! Community leaders loved reading about the successes of students in the community.

Ms. Olsen is the testing coordinator for Advanced Placement testing and the PSAT/NMSQT. She also has a large role in state testing. Ms. Olsen handles all of the ordering, money collection, and classroom visits for AP exams and the PSAT/NMSQT.  She's the logistical expert for all exams, handling rooms, staffing, hall monitors, classroom visit times, etc. Not only is she responsible for everything College Board-related, but she also runs the AMC Math Test and National Latin Exam.

"I honestly do not know how she is able to get so much done, but we rely on her because of her dedication to the department and attention to detail," said Kee. "Her work is inspirational and makes us all want to jump in and follow her lead."

Ms. Olsen is a critical member of the majority of educational programs and committees offered by her school. She created Academic Signing Day, a program that honors students who earn institutional scholarships. This program has been featured in local newspapers multiple times.  She's also in charge of Honors Convocation, which is another program that honors the achievements of all of our hardworking students.

“Karen is truly dedicated in the process of recognizing and honoring the yearly successes of our entire student body in preparation of Honors Convocation," said Shelley Simpson, CHS Secretary and Honors Convocation collaborator. "She spends countless hours preparing for this event outside of her daily office hours, talking with students, gathering documentation, and providing the parents with an opportunity to hear about the accomplishments of their children.  Honors Convocation is so successful due to Karen’s continued daily desire to see each and every student succeed."

Ms. Olsen is a leader in the Student Recognition Committee, the School Improvement Committee, and the Curriculum Council. She's even taking students on a week-long trip to Disney World in December 2020! Her hard work led her to be recognized as the Department Chair and 2014 Superintendent Award winner.  Her leadership and presence is felt throughout her school in a myriad of ways.

Ms. Olsen is seen as the leader of her department.  She has taken on the responsibility of being a mentor for a new school counselor, Renee Kurtz.

“Karen is literally the most thoughtful, selfless person I have ever encountered," said Kurtz. "I think of her as the Mother Theresa of CHS.  I aspire to be as great of a counselor and person as her. She is amazing at instructing without being directive.  She always makes me feel welcome to come to her with questions and would never make anyone feel inadequate because they are unsure or do not know something.  Karen is great at explaining and making sure you understand exactly how and why something should be done a certain way.  Her attention to detail could never be matched!  Nothing is ever overlooked!  You always know that it is in your best interest to follow her lead without questioning it, because you know she has had a ton of experience and has already thought of the best possible way something could be done.  At the same time, she makes you feel welcome to question how things are done and is always open to suggestions of how things can be improved.  Karen is always striving to be her best self, whether at work or in her personal life.  Throughout my Master's program, I had always heard that CHS was the 'best counseling department in the area.'  Now, as I see it from the inside, it is because of Karen's dedication and leadership. I am so proud to get to work with and learn from her and the rest of our amazing team!  Karen is the definition of leading by example.  Just watching her in action makes you want to do better and be better at work and at life.  The craziest thing is that most of the amazing work she does is behind the scenes.  She puts in hours before work, after work, and at home to ensure that everything runs smoothly without a hiccup.  She never seeks the spotlight and makes all of the difficult work she does look effortless.”

Comments (79)

America Gutierrez Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is someone who we are all grateful to have in our district. She wants the best for her students and wants them to succeed in life. She isn't my counselor but whenever I need advice or help I feel conformable asking her. When I filled out an application for a position she was so excited for me to do it that it encouraged me even more. If I had a suggestion or idea to plan an activity she would give me her input and we would discuss the best possible way to plan the activity. She always listens to her students and supports them.

Carstyn Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Olson does so many things for students at Collinsville High school. She is so selfless and makes my day so much better.

Kayla Pacheco Posted over a year ago

When I started CHS she's was an amazing person and really helpful, kind, sweet and wonderful counselor to me. She listens to my concerns and takes time to find a solution. She's approachable. If I succeed, It's because of her help.

Colin Wells Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is one of the most caring and helpful counselors at Collinsville High School. She is always ready to help anybody with anything that you may need, such as problems at school and even personal things. She provides a safe and fun environment so the person in need does not feel awkward and they can feel relaxed. She will always make sure that you are taken care of, and will push to make you more successful. One thing that really stands out to me about her is that she pays attention to your future, and will help find opportunities for you to dive head first into something you enjoy.

Micki FEDORCHAK Posted over a year ago

On top of all of Karen's other responsibilities at CHS, she also serves as leader of our district's Help and Response Team. WE can always count on Karen to be the first one there and last one to leave. She cares deeply about our students, staff and community!!! Everyone needs a Karen in their life!!!

Vjosa Beluli Posted over a year ago

I’d like to start off by saying Ms. Olsen is an amazing counselor that has helped many students during their time at CHS, including myself. She brings such an optimistic energy everyday towards her work and encourages her students to reach for their goals. Funny enough she was never my assigned counselor, but anytime I needed her assistance she happily accepted. Ms. Olsen is such a great asset to Collinsville High School, I’m very grateful to have gotten to know her.

Barbara Lindauer Posted over a year ago

Karen Olsen is an exceptionally caring coworker and friend who is eternally upbeat. She is admired by both students and staff for her strong work ethic, creativity and energy. No matter how busy Karen is she will make the time to help. She has the ability to turn any situation into a positive and she has touched the lives of anyone and everyone she has ever met.

Alondra Munoz Posted over a year ago

As a first generation student, it can be hard to know the right path to take onto the next step after highschool. With Ms.Olsen as my counselor, I felt nothing but ready to take on college. My entire senior year, she was extremely helpful and guided me in the right path. My junior year, she presented me the opportunity to attend a summer program that taught me so much that has helped me and will continue to help me in life. Throughout my senior year, she continuously helped me fill out scholarships. She is very knowledgeable and is willing to help students that are searching for guidance. Ms. Olsen is the type of person to see potential in people who don’t even see it in themselves. With Collinsville having a very high Latino population, I believe having someone like Olsen is essential because she is there to encourage the students who don’t see the potential in themselves.

Josh Scrum Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is the greatest Collinsville High School councilor any student could have! She has done so much for my career as a Collinsville Kahok. From helping find classes to helping make my college decision. Ms. Olsen loves her job and the students she helps. She has also helped a ton of my friends with all of the problems that they have had wether it’s stressing from there classes to personal problems. I am glad that she is apart of our community

Monserrat Munoz Posted over a year ago

Ms.Olsen has been a rock for many students including myself. She has helped me with my college journey. She makes sure that students have enough resources to make a future for themselves. Without her things would have been so much harder. Over all a great counselor and person!!

Andrew H. Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is definitely the best person to have around when trying to make a decision about the future. She was not my counselor while in high school but she always had a positive impact on me when we did cross paths. Ms. Olsen is the definition of a leader and exactly the type of person a high school needs. She always made daunting decisions seem simple and easy. When I think about the people who made high school great for me, Ms. Olsen is at the top of that list. I have yet to meet someone as great as she is since I graduated.

Monserrat Munoz Posted over a year ago

Ms.Olsen has been a rock for many students including myself. She has helped me with my college journey. She makes sure that students have enough resources to make a future for themselves. Without her things would have been so much harder. Over all a great counselor and person!!

Matthew Wilde Posted over a year ago

Karen Olsen is the best high school counselor at CHS. I went to her for help, even though she wasn’t my counselor. She is always there to help you and goes above and beyond in how she dose so. She gave me guidance on more than just school, she prepared me for life more than some of my actual teachers did! I owe so much to her and I cannot thank her enough for all of the kindness, guidance, and knowledge she has given to me during my time there at CHS.

John Collins Posted over a year ago

I speak from experience when I say that Ms. Olsen is truly life changing. Not only did she go above and beyond to help me on a day to day basis, but she also took time out of her evenings and weekends to help me with everything from class selection to ACT prep. Thanks to her, I was able to get accepted into my dream school, one of the best universities in the country. She helped to edit my admission essays, assemble my applications, and everything in between. Not only did she help me to establish myself in my dream undergraduate program, she continued to assist me with class selections and graduate school admissions long past my days walking the halls of Collinsville High School. Throughout my entire educational journey, I have yet to meet anyone as selfless and dedicated to their job. Ms. Olsen has genuinely changed my life and the lives of many of my peers and I can't think of anyone more deserving of recognition and thanks. Education is only able to have permanent impacts on our youth because of people like her.

Joshua Chambers Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is the greatest Collinsville High School councilor any student could have! She has done so much for my career as a Collinsville Kahok. From helping find classes to helping make my college decision. Ms. Olsen loves her job and the students she helps. I am glad that she is apart of our community!

Rachel O. Posted over a year ago

Karen Olsen is most certainly a LifeChanger! She is able to guide without being forceful, lead without opinion and mentor without being negative. She is well respected at Collinsville High School and her efforts leave lasting impressions on the students she encounters. I have witnessed this firsthand because my son’s life was changed as a result of her guidance. I’m forever grateful and honored to call her a friend.

Victoria Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen was my counselor during my time at CHS. High school is scary for pretty much everyone and Ms. Olsen made the process from freshman year to graduation much easier. She’s so approachable and I was never nervous to go to her and ask questions. Ms. Olsen also went out of her way to look out for scholarships that might be right for me. She helped make my high school experience a lot more enjoyable!

Grace Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is without a doubt the best counselor there is. She was not my assigned counselor, but helped me apply for colleges, scholarships, and even prepare for an interview. Ms. Olsen made sure I was prepared for anything and everything, and with her help I was able to walk into an interview with confidence. She truly cares for every student and wants only the best for them.

Joshua Chambers Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is the greatest Collinsville High School councilor any student could have! She has done so much for my career as a Collinsville Kahok. From helping find classes to helping make my college decision. Ms. Olsen loves her job and the students she helps. I am glad that she is apart of our community!

Grace Lanier Posted over a year ago

Ms.Olsen is truly one of the most kind and caring people I’ve ever met. She is always willing to work with you and take time out of her day to help you even if you aren’t one or her students. She isn’t my assigned counselor but she still had helped me to guide me to pick classes that can correspond with my future goals. I am now a junior at CHS which means that I am going to be needing her help more now as I decide which college to attend and how to achieve different goals that I have set and I know that she will without a doubt be there to guide me along the way!

Jaret Aylsworth Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen really helped me in my college decision by opening my mind to all of the factors of the decision, despite her not being my assigned counselor. She went above and beyond to ensure that I had a pleasant experience with choosing a college and checked up on me throughout the process. She brought to my attention many scholarships and other opportunities to help find the best college fit for me. Now a semester into college, I believe that she did in fact help me find the school that I was meant to attend. Rather than just being a counselor who is only focused on the college aspect, she was a warm and friendly face to see when passing through the halls and made sure to always ask about me first then college stuff later. I can safely say that she made a great impact on my life and is more than deserving of this award.

Millicent Collins Posted over a year ago

Even before I was a high school student at CHS, Ms. Olsen was already helping me navigate my way through high school. Coming from a private school, I was terrified since I did not know many people and was scared of transitioning to a much bigger school. Ms. Olsen always went out of her way to help me with classes, clubs, and any personal issues I needed to discuss. During my time at CHS I always felt comfortable knowing I had someone so caring, sweet, and trustworthy to go to if I needed something. She is a leader and a bright light to everyone around her. She constantly goes out of her way to help others and is always thinking of them before herself. Her encouraging and calm personality allows for stressed and overwhelmed students like myself to have a safe space to talk during the day and always put a smile on my face. Not only does Ms. Olsen help me currently everyday, but continues by helping me in my college plans and future endeavors even beyond high school. She is extremely supportive of my crazy dreams and always reassures me that nothing is impossible and to always believe in myself.

Brady O’Neill Posted over a year ago

Ms.Olsen was my assigned counselor at Collinsville High School for all four years of attendance. Without her guidance I would not know where I would be today. Looking back at my time at CHS I see the positive impact she made on me all the way through my first day of high school to the last. An example of this was my college search and more importantly my college acceptance. I will never forget the day that we had a college fair in our gym at CHS. Four local universities offered free applications to all CHS students. I applied to all four due to Ms.Olsen’s request. I went table to table getting the same “your test scores don’t align with our universities requirements” speech. I did not get accepted to any of them. I was heartbroken. I went to Ms.Olsen and told her what happened and she told me “Brady you have so much more to offer than what your test scores label you as and I’m here to help you” from that day on in the gym she made sure I found a school that would look at me as a person instead of my test scores. She helped me and I eventually found a university I fell in love with. That process was not easy. I got accepted to my current university but I needed two more math credits on my transcript. At the time being my last semester of high school I had no room to fit two math credits in my schedule by graduation. At this point I wanted to give up and move on. Ms.Olsen never gave up on me. She said I could do two semesters of math online and once the courses were shown on my transcript I would receive my admissions. Adding on two semester long online math courses on top of my current high school schedule was very hard. Every day Ms.Olsen would check on me and my progress. When I received my admissions I was sitting in her office and her and I were both in tears of joy. Ms.Olsen truly is my life changer.

Lauri Fischer Posted over a year ago

Karen Olsen is the driving force in the CHS Counseling Department. Karen is one of those individuals who consistently goes above and beyond what is needed in every situation. She is dedicated to the students, staff, and parents. You will get 100% from every interaction you have with her. She is a wealth of information regarding college selection, scholarship, applications, basically anything needed for the next steps after high school. She is one of the kindest, caring, and calming individuals that I have the honor of knowing. She has been a Lifechanger to countless lives at CHS.

Kristin Trapp Posted over a year ago

I had the opportunity to work with Karen for a number of years while at Collinsville High School. She is the true definition of servant leader and is the steady and dedicated backbone of so many initiates with CUSD 10. She is always willing to lend a hand, regardless of what else may be going on. She respectfully supports her students, co-workers, and school community and will do whatever she can to help each and every person and initiative succeed. She is very deserving of the life changer of the year award!

Claire Ross Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is such an amazing, caring person. I never thought I would meet someone as selfless and helpful as Ms. Olsen. She truly wants the best for every student she works with and will go out of her way to help her students and colleagues succeed. She assists students in everything from applying to colleges to dealing with personal issues. I relied on Ms. Olsen frequently my senior year when I was dealing with health complications, and I am forever grateful for everything that she did to help make my life easier. I could not have gotten through the school year without her help. She has made a tremendous impact on my life.

Maria LeCrone Posted over a year ago

What an incredible woman Karen is. Her humility, hard work, and LOVE make the world brighter every day. Thankful to call her friend.

Jaime Henderson Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is truly a blessing to her students and community, but her generosity and professional impact reaches beyond her district. She offered assistance and advice to our daughter, and we don't even live in her district! I've often listened carefully when close friends say, "Ms. Olsen says..." What a wonderful person!! The community is so lucky to have such a wise and caring advocate for students and families. Thank you, Ms. Olsen, for going above and beyond!

Alyssa Capizzi Posted over a year ago

Ms Olsen goes above and beyond for every single student - regardless if she is their assigned counselor or not. She spent so much time with me breaking down every single college admission essay. She has greatly impacted so many of our lives. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of her help and encouragement 5 years ago. She is so deserving of this award!

Lydia Posted over a year ago

There is no one more deserving than our kind, caring KO!!

Joshua Patterson Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen was more than just my counselor when I was in high school. I was very torn on 2 different paths for my future after CHS and she was the most caring, understanding, and helpful person through it all. She always went above and beyond to provide me information on all of my potential options, and encouragement when I wasn't feeling the most confident. I am certain that without her help I wouldn't be lucky enough to be in graduate school for physical therapy now. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award!

Matt Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen was my counselor years ago and was awesome! She goes above and beyond for her students and always has a smile on her face. CHS is lucky to have her!

Jen Hoyt Posted over a year ago

Karen is just simply the best! She single handedly got my son several scholarship opportunities making his college choice possible. She is a kind, warm, go getter that never stops. CHS would not be the school it is without her! She deserves so much recognition.

Emily Lymberopoulos Posted over a year ago

Words do not suffice to explain how much Ms. Olsen has impacted my life. She is full of grace, and love! Truly, she beautifully demonstrates the art of what it looks like to come alongside someone and help them reach their potential. Grateful our paths crossed, and honored to call her friend. She is more than deserving of this award!

Alyssa Simpson Posted over a year ago

Even though Ms. Olsen was not my assigned counselor, she took me under her wing and provided a safe place for anything to be discussed. She was not only incredibly active, resourceful and supportive through my college/future steps process, but also with anything I needed to talk about. Through my college years and after, Ms. Olsen remains a mentor and cheerleader for me and a lot of my classmates that were close with her. She believes in student’s dreams and helps turn them into a reality. There is no one more deserving than this reward.

Wes Burgess Posted over a year ago

As her colleague, I can attest to Ms. Olsen's unwavering, generous commitment in supporting all of Collinsville High School's students, families, and staff. She is always such a reliable resource for information and help, and she is truly dedicated to her job.

Chris Hathaway Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen was there for me when I needed her most. Junior High is a very tough time for most kids. It’s even tough for kids like me when my home life wasn’t the best. I knew I had a friend and mentor in Ms. Olsen. I didn’t know how much of an impact she made until several years late. She went above and beyond her duties to make school a welcoming and enjoyable environment. This was back in 2004-2005. I can only imagine how much she has grown as a leader, teacher, and counselor.

Jon Henninger Posted over a year ago

The heart, commitment, and genuine care for people Karen shows in her professional role is evident in every facet of her life. She leads by example. She is an encourager. She looks for ways to help people. She always goes way above and far beyond. The world needs more people like Karen Olsen!

Adriana Ornelas Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is an amazing human being! While a student at CHS, I remember Ms. Olsen always going above and beyond to make sure I had everything I needed to graduate, start college, and face any challenges in life. After graduating, she always kept in touch and was always willing to share with my family and I special moments. Now, as I am half way through my first year teaching at CHS, she continues to be an excellent counselor to my students and sister, as well as to other family members who are students at CHS. She continues to be my "go-to" person at CHS and I appreciate all of Ms. Olsen's advice and guidance. Ms. Olsen is the best and deserves this award more than anyone!

David Snider Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen was selected as the 2019 Ray Piagentini High School Counselor of the Year by the Illinois School Counselor Association based on her outstanding work on behalf of students, families, and staff. Karen Olsen is an exceptional and compassionate educator. She has effectively mentored and collaborated with numerous school counselors at CHS. Moreover, Ms. Olsen has served countless students and families in professional manner. She is dedicated to the Collinsville Unit #10 School Community. As our Co-Department Chair of School Counseling, Karen has been instrumental in numerous progressive academic initiatives at Collinsville High School. For example, Ms. Olsen was developed and implemented of our Academic Signing Day. Students are recognized for academic scholarship awards to their selected college or university. The event positively impacts our school community as students, faculty, family members, and college representatives gather to celebrate academic excellence. Ms. Olsen serves and provides leadership on the CHS School Improvement Planning Team, Student Advisory Council, Student Recognition Committee, and our Return to Learn Committee. She also coordinates our Advanced Placement Program. Furthermore, Ms. Olsen was instrumental in writing and submitting the proposal which enabled our school to acccess Naviance, a college and career technology solution. She regularly meets with students in order to collaborate in the development of postsecondary plans. Ms. Olsen also participates in our Student Support Team meetings and formulates at-risk lists in order to better serve students in need of academic and social interventions. She contributed to the development our Kahok Academy, which has been instrumental in increasing our graduation rate at CHS. The program affords at-risk students access to on-line courses at CHS outside of the traditional classroom setting. Ms. Olsen also regularly collaborates with our social workers in order to provide students emotional and social support. External counseling resources have been leveraged to serve students and grief counseling is provided to students on-site. In closing, Ms. Karen Olsen actively displays educational leadership at Collinsville High School. Her aforementioned endeavors and accomplishments have certainly impacted CHS students and our entire school community in a positive manner. Ms. Olsen is awesome!

Jason Corey Posted over a year ago

Karen Olsen is an amazing person and school counselor. She goes above and beyond for everyone that she comes in contact with from students, staff, people in her community, and beyond. She is one of the most selfless people that I have ever met in my entire life, in which she spends the majority of her free time helping others. If there is something going on at school or in her community you can definitely bet that she is involved. Whether it be feeding people in need at thanksgiving, traveling to another county for mission work, or helping a student find the best fit college she is always there. Karen is a great co-worker, friend and is truly a life changer.

Kimberly Collins Posted over a year ago

Before I had the pleasure of working with Ms. Olsen as a colleague in Collinsville Community Unit School District #10, I knew her as my son’s counselor at Collinsville High School. Now I see firsthand “behind-the-scenes” how tirelessly she supports students and families as they navigate the high school experience and prepare for college. From every perspective, she is an exceptional person and educator who has a positive impact on everyone around her. She elevates the staff and students at Collinsville High School to achieve things they don’t think are possible on their own. Kitschy song lyrics like “You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings” and “You Raise Me Up” totally describe what Karen does for people EVERY day. It is in her being that she works to support others. Last spring, my son graduated from his dream college - a highly respected university with a highly competitive acceptance rate. Karen will tell you that HE achieved that goal. My family will tell you that without Ms. Olsen, we would not have understood how to navigate the college process and he might not have believed his dream was even attainable. When he opened his acceptance email - his first call was to tell her. My daughter is currently a senior at Collinsville High School. Ms. Olsen initiated the college planning process with her as soon as her freshman year began. Last spring and summer, despite COVID-19 forcing schools to go remote, Ms. Olsen kept in touch with her to encourage her to continue making a college list and not give-up on her dream of finding a program that would combine her unique talents and interests. Frequently, we receive emails and messages from Ms. Olsen at night and on weekends to share information she has found or thoughts she has about applying for schools and scholarships. Her gentle guidance and calm demeanor have again led our family through a process that has resulted in acceptance at a university that meets every one of our child’s unique needs and criteria. I can unequivocally say Karen Olsen has had a major impact on my children’s lives. Her job as a high school counselor is not just her career, it is her calling. She does so much more than help choose courses and fill out complex forms and applications - she helps young people define who they are, where they will go and who they will be. My children’s stories are not unique among CHS students. I have seen her push, prod and challenge many to think and dream big about their futures. In our community, first-generation college students are common. These students often don't look beyond community or local colleges based on their family finances or life experiences. She works with them to consider “bigger” options. She believes in students so they believe in themselves. Her office has a constant flow of individuals with questions and personal problems. She patiently supports them. Everyone leaves her tiny workspace thinking they are the only person in the world and she has nothing to do but help them. I often wonder how she is able to accomplish so much with so many distractions. I often wonder how one person can be so many things to so many people. I often wonder if she knows how much she is appreciated. I could go on and on with examples of her good works. I could collect volumes from people about how she has influenced their lives. The thing about Karen Olsen is that she is extremely humble and prefers to be in the wings while others are in the spotlight. However, she deserves a moment in the spotlight. She deserves to be recognized so others can see her as a role model and an example of selflessness and professionalism. Please give the highest consideration to Karen Olsen as a Life Changer of the Year. I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of this honor.

Darryl Frerker Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is an outstanding person and co-worker. She is dedicated to the Kahok Community, the staff, and students at CHS. Karen goes over and beyond the realm of her position with enthusiasm, kindness, and respect for everyone. She always gives her best to students and staff in Unit 10, and nobody deserves this acknowledgement more than her.

Shelby Hails Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is awesome! She wasn’t my assigned counselor, yet she was still the one I saw every time I went. She was always so helpful and, looking back, I can confirm she really set me up for success. I am graduated from college now, but I still remember her profound impact on me in high school. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award!

Stacy Lanier Posted over a year ago

Karen Olsen genuinely cares about the students!! Both of my kids have had her as their counselor, and she always goes above and beyond to help! Collinsville is fortunate to have her!!

Ryan Lanier Posted over a year ago

The best counselor in the state for sure and maybe even the country!!! Helps every student that walks in her office no matter who they are or if they are even her student. Truly cares about the positive change in students lives no matter what they ask. Definitely the most positive and supportive face around campus.

Darryl Collins Posted over a year ago

It’s hard to imagine what my children’s high school years and college search process would have been like without all the engagement and positive influence of Karen Olsen. Her commitment to the welfare and academic success of students is remarkable. From traditional counseling to letters of recommendation to research, she seems tireless. I would heartily recommend her for any award that recognizes commitment and positive impact in her career field.

Julie Brown Posted over a year ago

Karen is one in a million, going above and beyond in everything she does! I am not sure how she manages to accomplish all that she does, but she does it, and with a smile! I have never seen someone work so tirelessly and be so selfless! Her work is amazing and the students are lucky to have her on their side!

Brad Skertich Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olson has been an instrumental part of the Kahok Diversity and Equity Committee the past 12 months. As the committee develops goals related to Professional Development, Curriculum and Programs, she has been working at CHS to adapt courses and provide more cultural awareness to our students. A few areas of focus include working with the Social Sciences Department to adapt the Current Events Class at CHS to include more cultural awareness, the English Department adding additional minorities authors to English I, II and III and the development of a new English course that specifically focuses on minority authors. She is committed to working with our staff to provide students with knowledge of all ethnic backgrounds. Despite working at CHS, Ms. Olson realizes the importance of increasing student knowledge about AP Classes and Career Awareness and is working to provide teachers with Career Awareness Activities and information on AP classes while they are still in elementary school. She feels providing the students with a solid foundation at an early age will benefit the students in their course selection as they move through intermediate and middle school before beginning their freshman year in high school. Ms. Olson is kind, generous and will do whatever is in her power to help a student, make them feel welcome or recognize their efforts. Recently, she arranged for a card, note and small gift for the CHS Student Advisory Committee to ensure the students knew how much their voices were appreciated. She is a class act that has and continues to impact students lives everyday!

Hanna Liljegren Posted over a year ago

My family has been impacted by Ms. Olsen more than she could ever know. My dad is a math teacher at Collinsville, and my mom also taught as a math teacher at Collinsville until she passed away in 2017. I am the oldest of three siblings, all who have graduated from Collinsville. Ms. Olsen went above and beyond for all three of us and for our family. She spent hours helping my siblings and me find and apply for scholarships. She also, on her own time, helped me research majors, classes, and career paths during my freshman year of college, and was actively engaged in my path to grad school last year. I know I’m not the only person she has done this for. Ms. Olsen genuinely cares about her students and coworkers, and that care does not stop when her students graduate.

Carla Elliff Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Karen Olsen for many years and can attest to the fact that she is one of the most hard-working educators I have ever known. Whether it's 6 am on a Saturday or 9 pm on a Wednesday, if there is a need for her to be a school to help with anything, she is there. She never hesitates to step in and help where there is a need--sometimes before anyone realizes they even need help. Our students, families and school community are lucky to have Ms. Olsen!

Myles Nelson Posted over a year ago

Nobody is more deserving of this than Ms. Olsen. If it weren’t for her, hundreds if not thousands of students would not have had the resources available for them to succeed. Thank you for all you do for our community!

Debby Lin Posted over a year ago

Actually, CHS is good for some things but the counselors aren’t the best. There’s one in particular who gave my child a horrible experience with opening up about her problems. The counselor would pick and pick and make things up and make my child seem crazy, even called people to come evaluate my child. My child legit had the worst experience ever and now she will never feel the same, I’m so glad my child doesn’t go to that school anymore!- Debby Lin

Melissa Biebel Posted over a year ago

I can't even begin to explain the positive impact Karen Olsen has had not only on myself but in our student's lives. Karen was one of the main reasons I was hired on as a school counselor. She took a chance on a new school counselor that had been interviewing without an offer for years. In our area school counseling opportunities are far and few between so I initially didn't have much hope coming into my interview, I didn't know anyone, I hadn't worked as a counselor before, I just had my knowledge and a drive to be a counselor. Karen saw the potential within me even when I myself couldn't. She advocated for my hiring and changed not only my life, but the lives of my family. Karen is always available to answer my many questions and has taken me under her wing all while maintaining many amazing relationships with her students and the rest of the building. She is always the first one here and the last to leave, and often working through her weekends to make sure our department is running smoothly. Karen's drive and caring manner is a beacon that draws out the best in people. I know that my time working with Karen has been the best time of my life and I know that her students will say the same!

Barb Daugherty Posted over a year ago

Karen, As we just met this school year! I see you always helping everyone, staff and students! You are so dedicated to making sure your kids, staff and families have what they need to be successful. You are awesome! Keep being you.

LIsa Posted over a year ago

As a parent and a coworker, I can confirm that Karen is extremely helpful to all! She also has amazing school spirit and really promotes the programs offered at CHS!

Jenn Smith Posted over a year ago

Karen has been one of my best friends for over 15 years. Much like what has been described about her in her work life, she is the exact same in her personal life. Karen is always looking for ways to help other people, not matter what is needed. She volunteers regularly at her church and other activities in our community. She is an excellent listener and has helped me through many highs and lows in my life, including my mom's cancer diagnosis and my wedding, both occurring within months of each other. I want to give you all a specific example of Karen's dedication and caring in her job. My niece was a senior last year and was trying to decide where she wanted to attend college. She had narrowed it down to 3 schools, some which offered scholarships, and some that had her major. I asked Karen if she would be willing to talk to my niece and give her some recommendations on how to narrow down her search. Not only did she speak to my niece on the phone several times, she conducted research on those 3 colleges and the major my niece wanted to pursue. She was able to give my niece valuable information from her research and her experience as a high school counselor. Based on that information, my niece was able to make an informed decision on her choice of college that not only had the classes she needed for her major but also resulted in a full scholarship for her freshman year at a school. Her discussions with Karen greatly reduced her (and her parents') stress and anxiety during this decision time. What I want to point out is that my niece attended high school in another state. She was not one of Karen's students. Karen went above and beyond to help my niece out in such an invaluable way. My niece told me that she wished Karen was one of her counselors at the high school she attended. That is mighty high praise! I can only imagine what she is able to do for the students that she works with on a daily basis. Karen is definitely a life changer!!

Precious Wilson Posted over a year ago

Ms. Karen helped me in 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 my freshman and sophomore years of high school. She got me into a support group for young pregnant moms and that changed me and my child’s life. I am now a nurse but that group helped me get through high school and her supportiveness and knowledge let me know that I was not alone and could make it to be anything I wanted to be. Thank you Karen.

Olivia Potter Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen is a true servant leader. She gives her all to each student to help them get where they need to be so they can become their best selves. For me, this always meant highlighting scholarship opportunities to me and different community activities to help strengthen my college applications. She sat with me for hours discussing my aspirations of attending law school and what should I be looking for in a college to help me to achieve my dream of becoming a lawyer. No dream was too big or goal too lofty for her, she always encouraged and pushed me to be my best self. Learning from her example. Ms. Olsen helped me be a more confident and thoughtful person. She always has time for her students and no challenge is too big for her. While some doubted if a four-year university was within my capabilities and budget, Ms. Olsen never doubted me and instead only found solutions for me by helping me with my applications and identify the right programs for me. Without her, I never would have been able to attend Webster University and later become the first member of my family to attend law school. I am forever grateful to have had Ms. Olsen as a counselor. She is a truly tremendous person and a giant among CHS faculty!

Kyle Gordon Posted over a year ago

Karen is a truly dedicated educator. She has positively impacted more lives than we can count. She always goes the extra mile in all that she does. She is a true role model for educators everywhere!

Yesenia Posted over a year ago

She is one of the main reasons I graduated high school. She helped me get through some major anxiety issues and some serious struggles all while making sure my academics and classes stayed on track. She is truly a blessing in disguise! 10 years later and I am still beyond thankful for her!

Ashley Burgess Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olson is an amazing person, counselor, and friend to every person she meets. I am an alumna of Collinsville High School and she made my high school experience so much better. She went above and beyond to provide me with ways to improve my resume, class suggestions, ways to get involved in the community, and scholarship opportunities. She was always there to lend a listening ear whenever I had a bad day and needed to talk, but also when I had exciting news to share. Her positive outlook, warm personality, and encouraging words motivated me to follow my dreams of becoming a physical therapist. I truly cannot say enough good things about Ms. Olsen. All counselors should strive to be as welcoming and helpful as her. I feel blessed to have had a counselor like her in high school and to have her as a friend now.

Cindy Tesdall Posted over a year ago

Karen, you ROCK! I know that I can always send kids to you to get their questions answered about college, scholarships, mental health issues, life issues. We are so LUCKY to have you in the counseling department. Additionally, you are always willing to help out the teachers and staff as well.

Bonny Stites Posted over a year ago

I was blessed to have Karen as a roommate in college. I just wanted to say that she has always been the most selfless, generous, loving, and caring people that I have met. It doesn't surprise me that she continues to make a difference in everyone's lives. It is good to see that she is getting recognized for not just what she does, but for who she is everyday of her life.

Stacy Hartle Posted over a year ago

Karen is not only an amazing colleague, she is an amazing counselor. I was able to witness this first hand when she served as my son’s guidance counselor while he attended CHS. She works very hard for all of her students and then some! She’s the best!

Kathy Posted over a year ago

She is the first in the office almost every day. She does not take credit for all of the extra work she puts in for the students. She is always doing something special for the staff to keep a smile on our face. She goes ALL IN for Spirit days!

Renee Kurtz Posted over a year ago

There is no one more deserving!!

Charlotte Fisher Posted over a year ago

Ms. Olsen goes above and beyond to help our Kahok community. She is the first to arrive and the last to leave. She does all the hard work in the background. She strives to always give her best to students and staff.

Megan Baebler Posted over a year ago

I've known Karen for about 8 years. Our relationship started out as a professional one; I am her veterinarian for her pets. She has always taken exceptional care of her pets and always done what is needed for their care. Over the years, we have become friends because of that shared love of animals. When my stepson was preparing to apply to colleges, she was happy to offer me suggestions even though he isn't a student in her district. She is always looking to make sure her students are well taken care of and are prepared for the next stage in their lives. She has been a positive light in my world and I'm so happy and proud to call her a friend.

Tracy Cook Posted over a year ago

Karen does an amazing job with scheduling and making sure that all of our kiddos (9-12) have the right classes for each of the individual students. She takes great care with her work and makes sure that we, the teachers, know what is going on with the counseling department. Thank you, Karen, for all of your hard work and dedication to CHS.

Kevin Robinson Posted over a year ago

Karen is a huge asset to not only our counseling department, but also to our entire school district. We are very lucky to have her on our team!

Neuber Posted over a year ago

Karen Olsen is one of the most selfless people I have ever met. This woman has never turned her back on anyone as long as I've known her. It is a privilege to work with her every day.

Bill Gottschalk Posted over a year ago

I have had the privilege of working with Karen over the years, and I can attest that her work goes above and beyond what her official duties are as a guidancee counselor. This would be a WELL-deserved honor for her to be awarded with!

Amanda Baugher Posted over a year ago

Karen is a huge asset to our school & students!!!

Bobby Wright Posted over a year ago

When I think if Ms. Olsen, it's hard to come up with something at our school that she isn't involved with. She is always going out of her way to make sure teachers and students have what they need at all times. She consistently puts everyone else above herself, regardless of whether it is a teacher with a question, or a student who needs help with scheduling or scholarships. I would have to say that she is one of the most caring people in our school. I could not think of a more deserving candidate for this award!

Danielle Voelkel Posted over a year ago

Karen is our cheerleader. She does so much for our school and our students. She helps organize many academic programs at Collinsville High School. She does a great job preparing teachers to proctor standardized tests. She also has amazing school spirit. She is always one of the faculty members participating in school-wide spirit weeks, events, and other functions.

Mark Schusky Posted over a year ago

Karen is, simply put, the life-blood of so much of what Collinsville High School does. As a colleague, parent, and friend, I rely on Karen Olsen in countless ways -- and she always rises to any occasion and meets any challenge with grace, aplomb, intellect, kindness and success. Her hard work and dedication are evident in everything she does, ways big and small, and have in their totality a direct impact on so many people's successes -- from students to peers to administrators, to, truly the entire school community and School District writ large. I have the pleasure of working closely with Karen on the Student Recognition Committee, the Return to Learn Committee, the Honors Convocation ceremony, and many other issues and events and groups at our high school. I could not do my job successfully without Karen's advice, assistance, efforts and wisdom. She is the person people turn to when there's a problem to solve, a issue to address, a success to celebrate, or a challenge to overcome. I often marvel at her ability to seemingly be all things to all people, student, co-worker, parent, administrator, without ever seeming overwhelmed in any way. Perhaps unfortunately for her -- but fortunately for Collinsville High School -- these traits lead people to always seek Karen Olsen out as *the* person to turn to on matters big and small, whether she's truly the "right" person in the bureaucratic chain or not, and she always helps, and her input is always valuable, and valued. I don't know what I -- or the school -- would do without her!

Carla Cruise Posted over a year ago

Karen, it has been wonderful to work with you through the years. You have been a great advocate for our students. Whenever I need your help you have been willing to go over and beyond with creative ideas to accomplish our goals. This year you have embraced a new committee "Diversity & Equity" so that our underrepresented students will be valued and included. Stay encouraged, stay Kahok-Strong. You are helping to create change!

Micki Fedorchak Posted over a year ago

Karen is such a supportive resource for her students and our staff. I know I can always count on her!!!