Chris Schimmel from West Virginia University’s College of Education and Human Services, received the 2012 School Counselor Educator of the Year award Feb. 22 at the annual spring conference of the WV School Counselor Association.

Schimmel, an assistant professor and coordinator of the School Counseling program, has worked with a task force with the Department of Education that looks at the needs of students in West Virginia. The advising and counseling needs of students in rural areas are different than those who live in urban areas. Because of their location, rural students may not be aware of opportunities and resources that are available to them. What’s more, they are less likely to pursue opportunities, something Schimmel has focused on improving.

While her work with the Department of Education garnered her recognition to be considered for the award, the span of her career is what qualified her to receive it. Schimmel completed her master’s degree in counseling at WVU and began her career teaching English and mathematics. Even though she wanted to work with children, she felt the classroom wasn’t for her and decided to get involved in professional school counseling.

She worked as a school counselor in Kanawha County for four years in the mid-1990s until she took a job at Marshall University’s counseling graduate program, where she taught for 10 years until she came to WVU. During that period, Schimmel noticed changes taking place in the field of school counseling.

“Since I began school counseling,” said Schimmel, “there has been a nationwide shift that has seen counselors break out of the stereotypical guidance counselor model.”

Where before, school counselors were mainly responsible for scheduling classes and handling the occasional crisis, they are now more proactive and promoting prevention activities in their schools. Schimmel is a major proponent of a new model being implemented by the American School Counselor Association and the WV Department of Education that focuses on career, academic, and personal/social development.

“I would really like to see school counselors at the center of the school climate and culture,” said Schimmel, “so that they can connect more directly with students.”

The criteria for the award involved a passion and commitment to school counseling and the training and mentoring of pre-service school counselors in West Virginia. Also considered is commitment to working to better school counseling in the state.



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CONTACT: Christie Zachary, College of Education and Human Services
Phone: 304.293.0224;