2-9-2018 – Corona – Meet Stephanie Ford! She is an Elementary School Counselor!
Stephanie grew up in a small town in Southwest Michigan halfway between Chicago and Detroit.
“I had 42 kids in my graduating class,” she said, “I played college basketball for two years at a Junior College and graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and minors in Math/Science, Early Childhood, & Integrated Created Arts.”
Stephanie began her teaching career at John Stallings Elementary.
“I will never forget about going to my University job fair and walking up to Corona-Norco’s booth, looking at the pictures and someone from HR telling me that Corona was ‘just 30 minutes from the ocean and an hour from the beach’ they strategically left out the part about the 91 freeway and traffic,” said Stephanie.
Two months later, Stephanie packed up and told her parents she was going to try this new adventure for only a couple years.
“This is my 18th year in CNUSD and my 13th year as an Elementary School Counselor,” she said, “This week I am completing my Preliminary Administrative School Credential!”
Her favorite part about working at CNUSD are the students and families.
“I love the students and families,” said Stephanie, “I am so blessed to work at Stallings and Prado View this year and I have an amazing team of School Counselors, Administrators, and Staff who truly believe in social-emotional learning and what it takes to support our students and families in order to focus on the whole child.”
Stephanie’s most memorable experiences are all the small moments that last for just an instant but leave a lifelong impact.
“Having the gift to inspire kids each day is the greatest experience. My students are survivors and I will always be their champion. Their anger is pain and their sadness is just one loving adult or relationship willing to give them a chance,” she said.
There is no typical day in the world of elementary school counseling.
“I run programs, mentor, coach, attend SST’s and IEP’s, conduct classroom presentations, counseling groups and a lot of individual counseling,” said Stephanie, “Parent phone calls, parent meetings, suicide assessments, cps reports, and consult with teachers.”
Her favorite hobbies range from taking spin classes 3 times a week or anything active, volunteering, watching sunsets, Michigan Football, reading, re-decorating for people, baking, traveling, and spending quality time with her friends and family.
“One of the most important, and challenging, areas of the counseling profession is the importance of self-care. I don’t say this for just counselors, but any person working in education,” said Stephanie, “It’s imperative to make time for oneself when each and every day we are taking on the energy, emotions and sometimes trauma others have experienced.”
Her mom always told her if she is having a bad day to go out and do something kind for someone.
“That advice has served me well in life,” said Stephanie.
Stephanie always says the number of students enrolled in CNUSD is the number of children she has.
“Ask anyone who knows me well and they will believe that answer,” she said, “All means all. Every single student here we must take ownership for. Every day. Every hour. We are CNUSD.”
A quote that resonates with Stephanie is one from Steven Jobs – If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”
“I truly believe as educational leaders we have a responsibility to be tenacious in our mission to serve each and every day and to do so with a grit and determination that does not end at 3:00 or at the trimester or even the school year,” said Stephanie, “It is a lifetime commitment to these students, families, community, and stakeholders.”
Stephanie knows she is not perfect and mistakes will happen.
“This job is demanding. This job is exhausting. But this job brings me more joy and passion than any career I could imagine,” she said, “At the end of the day, I always take with me my core values. Because through those times of imperfection, I know that I lead with trust, empathy, integrity, stewardship and always try to communicate the best way I know how.”
She encourages everyone to get to know their school counselor.
“Often we are isolated at our school site, not because we want to be but because our caseload is so large,” she said, “We want to support you in any way we can and building relationships with our staff is valuable! We have a plethora of resources and experiences. Please seek us out, we would love to meet you.”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Child Protective Services: 1-800-442-4918