Amy Davis hero photo 090518

Helpful Hints from an Elementary School Counselor

This is part of a series of posts from nominees for our LifeChanger of the Year educator recognition program. We meet scores of fascinating LifeChangers every year who have interesting perspectives to share about children, education and life.

“Mrs. Davis, guess what?”


“Knock Knock”

“Who’s there?”


“Who Who”.

“Why do you sound like an owl?”

This is how I am sometimes greeted at 7:45 in the morning. Why? Because I am an elementary school counselor. Have been for the past 14 years. (A school counselor for 17 total; high school and junior high before this. ) And in those 14 years I greet elementary students every morning of school with a smile on my face. And sometimes I get a smile back, sometimes there are grumpy grumbling or tired kids, or tears. And it’s my job to make sure everyone tries to start off their day on the right foot.

For me this is Tip No. 1. No matter what your job or your life brings you, start your day off with a smile and try to help someone else do the same. In the world of technology, we are often very wrapped up in ourselves and our devices. People need a positive connection. I feel that people of all ages want to feel like someone cares.

Tip No. 2 is names: remember names. But also an important date associated with that person. For me, I write down birthdays, anniversaries of any significance, upcoming sibling births, etc. This will give me a chance to talk to this person and also connect with them and make them feel special. Again, I feel that this is one easy way to stay connected and make those relationships special.

Tip No. 3: Have fun. As an elementary counselor, I am always looking for ways to have fun. I think that this spills over into all areas of life. As a mother and a parent I came up with theme nights for meals. A friend of mine blows up birthday balloons and her child wakes up to a floor covered. At school we do all sorts of fun dress up days or dance. I am constantly looking for ways to have fun, bring a smile to someone’s face. Life is serious enough, laughing and smiling releases endorphins, a natural way to fight depression!

Tip No. 4: Relationship over task! My husband and I constantly remind each other this simple tip. Life can get tasky. We are all busy with jobs, cleaning, preparing dinner, and a mountain of to-dos. Stop and listen to your child when they want to tell you a story. No matter who is talking to you: sit down or stop, look them in the eye and give them attention. For me, I have to remind myself to get out of my office, go hang out in the cafeteria, outside at recess and in the halls. Relationships are needed to make us feel loved, important and teach us life social skills.

Tip No. 5: Volunteer. Whenever a student or even a fellow teacher feels blue or are struggling with their pity party, I look for ways they can volunteer or help someone else. I have modeled this for my own children by volunteering for a variety of organizations and charities. I give the gift of time at the holidays to co-workers instead of a gift. Volunteering is an excellent way to learn compassion and empathy. It takes the focus off yourself and you soon realize, “Hey, I don’t have it so bad.”

Learn more about Amy Davis on her LifeChanger of the Year profile.