Position: School Counselor
School: Irmo High School
School District: Lexington-Richland School District Five
City, State: Columbia, SC
Music that Describes Hannah
Hannah Boyles' nominator would like to remain anonymous.
Ms. Boyles has spent her life focused on changing the lives of others. At the age of 16, she was devoted to improving the lives of at-risk youth. She spent months researching how poverty impacts student success and how to combat it. Over two years, she organized a local school supply drive to equip 50 homeless students in her community. The joy expressed by those students upon receiving the donated supplies sparked a passion in her that still burns today, ten years later.
Ms. Boyles went on to major in middle-level education at the University of South Carolina. She taught seventh grade science for two years. While she loved watching her students grow academically, the true reward was watching them grow socially and emotionally. She infused social-emotional learning (SEL) practices into her lessons. For example, she encouraged her students to take five minutes before a big test to journal and write out their worries or distractions, then let loose and have some fun by crumpling up their “worry sheet” and throwing it away (like a basketball) into the trash can. One of her favorite activities was something she did every Thursday, when she had the students write something nice about someone in the room, anonymously. She read the nice words aloud before class began. At the middle school, she was recognized for her efforts by being nominated for Teacher of the Year. This nomination speaks highly of the impact she has on the people around her.
SEL became Ms. Boyles' fuel. With that fuel, she earned her Education Specialist degree in Counselor Education at the University of South Carolina. While earning her degree, she worked for a local nonprofit organization, Achieve Columbia. Achieve Columbia works with at-risk youth and families to ensure lasting social, emotional, and academic success by mitigating trauma. With Achieve, she developed and facilitated SEL activities to build resiliency among students.
Ms. Boyles is now in her second year serving as a School Counselor at Irmo High School. She's the Bullying Prevention coordinator, organizing school-wide events to combat bullying to promote kindness and acceptance. At Irmo, she works tirelessly to ensure a positive school environment, not only for all students, but for the staff, as well. She has coordinated self-care events for staff like having chiropractors from the community come and provide free services during the day for staff members. She also evolved her weekly shout-outs among students in the classroom to organizing staff “high fives” on Fridays.
"Hannah’s life has been devoted to changing the lives of others, for the better. Being a helper is who she is at her core," said the nominator. "The joy she receives from improving the world around us is infectious and inspiring."