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Thank You, District Counselors!

Banners that hang at Pine Lake Middle School say "We love our counselors" with the word "love" represented by a heart.

It's National School Counseling Week, and across the district, students, staff and families have been sharing their appreciation for our dedicated and caring counselors.

Issaquah School District employs 47 dedicated school counselors, serving in 27 school buildings districtwide.

We asked Melanie Bonanno, Assistant Director of Student Interventions – Counseling, to share a bit more about our counselors. Here’s what she said: 

"They provide critical academic, career, and social emotional support to enhance the learning process, to ensure students’ access to their education, and to foster student readiness and success for their future. Their role is to provide direct and indirect services for all students to ensure that they can progress forward in their education toward their goals, and to help address and remove barriers that might stand in the way," Bonanno said.

"A day in the life of a school counselor is never dull – they provide classroom lessons, work with students one on one or in small groups, provide academic advising, collaborate with families, teachers and community supports, help families in need connect to community resources, analyze data to improve their program, teach positive social emotional skills, help students who might be struggling with their health, emotions, hunger, friendships, homelessness, attendance, family changes, you name it!" she continued. "Our school counselors advocate for their students and families, provide a key connection point to resources and information, and offer crucial empathy, support and encouragement to help our students feel valued and engaged.  We are so fortunate to have their expertise and dedication – thank you, ISD School Counselors, for supporting our students and families! " 

Check out our Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter accounts for the individual social media posts, or read on for a glimpse of some of the gratitude that has been shared!

Monday, Feb. 6, 2023:

Photo shows CMMS counselors Brad Grow and Kalie Dotson

Let's give a shout out to Cougar Mountain Middle School counselors, Brad Grow and Kalie Dotson as we kick off National School Counseling Week!

“The CMMS counseling staff is such a huge part of how we serve students, families, and staff!” Principal Erin McKee said. 

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023:

Sunset Counselor Kristen Wood pauses for a photo with a group of first grade students.

In today’s National School Counseling Week highlight, Sunset Elementary School counselor Kristen Wood pauses for a photo with a group of first grade students, near a poster in the hallway with “Kelso’s Choices.” Kelso’s Choice Wheel is a tool that Wood teaches the students during classroom lessons to use to learn conflict management. 

Using the choices on the poster, students are able to work together to solve problems. Here, Wood is showing the first graders some of the choices that they can make if they encounter problems at recess or other times with their peers.  

Thank you, Ms. Wood, for empowering our students with tools they can use to work through struggles together! Thank you to counselors throughout the district – this week and all year long – for caring for our students, staff and families. The support you provide and the wisdom you share are incredibly important! 

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023:

School Counselors and members of the Counseling Office Team from I.H.S.

A team of seven counselors collaborates to help students at Issaquah High School, along with support from their office team. Let’s get to know each of them a bit in today’s National School Counseling Week highlight! 

  • Hilde Tzemos: New to the district this year, Tzemos loves to bake elaborate birthday cakes and is such a huge reader that she calls herself not a bookworm, but rather a “book-dragon!” 
  • Rachel Auffant: Arriving at I.H.S. by way of Beaver Lake Middle School, Mercer Island High School and Liberty High School, Auffant enjoys spending time hiking, reading, or loving on her dogs and chickens. 
  • Emily Combellick: In her 12th year as an I.H.S. Eagle, Combellick also loves to bake and read (is this becoming a theme?) as well as quoting movie lines.  She loves I.H.S. because of its awesome students, caring staff and incredible community. 
  • Maegan Pedersen: Also in her first year at I.H.S., Pedersen worked previously with middle and elementary students. In her free time, she loves spending time with family, going to the lake and enjoying the sunshine. 
  • Madison McCune: Another I.H.S. first-year Eagle, McCune decided to become a counselor after working as a paraeducator and a counselor substitute. She enjoys spending time with her husband and puppy, cooking and exploring. 
  • Stacy Clawson: Clawson returned to I.H.S. this year, and has been a school counselor in the district for 12 years. Born and raised in Redmond, Clawson attended college in California before returning to the area, where she lives with her husband and daughter. 
  • Julianna Jenkins: After working at Issaquah Middle School, Jenkins joined the I.H.S. team this year. She loves spending time with her partner and dog, camping, the Gilmore Girls and Taylor Swift. 

Thank you, I.H.S. counseling team, for caring for your students, staff and school community! 

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023:

Today’s National Counseling Week highlight is a tale of five middle school teams that work diligently all year round for their students, fellow staff members and school communities. 

First up are Issaquah Middle School counselors Allie Knechtel and Oracio Valdez.

IMS Counselors Allie Knechtel and Oracio Valdez

Among the many things they do for I.M.S. students every day, Allie and Oracio coordinated with the PTSA to provide targeted support to IMS families during the holidays. The holiday resource bags shown in the photo were distributed to students before they left for winter break, and were a wonderful way to embrace the IMS School Motto: Take care of one another and be kind!

In the tale of our second team of middle school counselors, Pine Lake Middle School student Aster described this team: “The counselors here make an incredibly positive impact whenever they interact with us. They just make my day whenever I talk to them!” 

Pine Lake Middle School Counselors

That sentiment was echoed by a Pine Lake teacher, who shared: “The counselors at this school are exactly who and what these kids need. Students leave my class in crisis and come back functional and emotionally steady. We appreciate you more than can truly be expressed!” 

And, in a brief kudos to each counselor at Pine Lake, teacher Anne Kiemle shared these words of gratitude: 

  • “Kristen Brittain, thank you for finding VOICE mentors that give one-on-one attention and guidance and for all the creativity you bring to whatever table you are sitting at!”  
  • “Rosie Bancroft, your compassion, wisdom, skillset and kindness are great boons — every single day you help students (and teachers) learn new ways to cope and stay calm amidst life’s challenges.” 
  • “Meagan Elliot, thank you for seeing each student’s best self, organizing the GSA, problem-solving, showering us with poetry, and laughter.” 
  • “Price Gass, counselor in training, you have jumped right in and know so much about current YA books, art, and how to listen carefully.” 

And in the third middle school highlight for today, we'll take a virtual visit to Maywood Middle School, where counselors Kristin Beasley and Tiffany Adler work to support students, staff and the school community. Beasley has been an ISD counselor for 12 years and at Maywood for four. Adler has been a counselor in the district for three years, and is new to Maywood staff this year; however, she’s not new to Maywood, as she attended middle school there and still lives in the area. 

Photo of counselors Kristin Beasley and Tiffany Adler

"Maywood is not only the home of the Chargers, but it's the home of the best counseling duo in the ISD,” Assistant Principal John Gardiner said. “Maywood benefits every day from having Kristin and Tiffany in our building. Their student-centered, hardworking and caring approach helps to create an environment that is affirming, where students feel supported, and where students feel welcomed. Thank you for all that you do, Kristin and Tiffany!"  

Let’s turn to Pacific Cascade Middle School for our fourth National School Counseling Week highlight for today.

Pacific Cascade Middle School Counselors

“We are so lucky to have Laura Meserole, Luqi Xie, and Miranda Williams serving as our counselors,” teacher Shona Campbell said. “From checking in with students to providing instruction and support to teachers, they make our school community strong and supported. Thank you for embodying our values and mission.” 

And last but not least, let's give a cheer for the team of counselors at Beaver Lake Middle School, where the Bulldogs expressed their appreciation for Tasha Feng, Rashi Abajian, Paulomi Girme and Kat Antes-Tadros.

Beaver Lake Counselors

Principal Kathryn Coffin said “BLMS is incredibly fortunate to have such a compassionate and knowledgeable team of counselors supporting our students.”

Student Brianna L. said “My counselor really cares. And she helps me make goals for my future and she makes sure those goals get accomplished.”

Friday, Feb. 10

As we wrap up National School Counseling Week, we’d like to give one final tremendous thank you to each counselor throughout the district!  

Let’s hear from some of our students and staff members about what they love and appreciate about our counselors: 


Discovery Elementary School: Second grade students shared about counselor Denise Steele-Darnell: 

  • “She is kind and always teaches us kind things to do.” 
  • “She’ll never let us down when we have a hard time.” 
  • “She’s there when she is needed and is caring. Always cares for others” 

Newcastle Elementary School: “Michele Jensen has become a wonderful support for our staff and student community at Newcastle. Her kindness and compassion show through in all that she does, and she is an anchor for many who need that in a time of stormy weather. Thank you for jumping in as a sub counselor with BOTH feet into our building! You are a wonderful addition to our staff!” Priscilla Hooke shared.

Endeavour Elementary School, Mikayla Rolfs: “Mikalya leads with a big heart. She is so positive, and students absolutely love her,” Dean of Students Katie Sabol said. “She has done a tremendous job building relationships with students and helping students solve conflicts or issues. She works tirelessly and Endeavour staff and students are so lucky to have her!”

Apollo Elementary School: “Sydney Hall joined Apollo in the fall of 2021 and she has quickly become a valued and respected member of the Apollo staff,” Principal Jane Harris said. “Her calmness, as well as her positive nature, can-do attitude, and ability to laugh through so many of the day’s ‘events’ have contributed to students sharing, ‘Ms. Hall is the BEST, she helps me when I need it!’ There are a lot of components that make an Apollo ‘Rocket Launch,’ and Sydney is our ‘rocket fuel.’” 

Skyline High School: “Our counselors do a phenomenal job supporting every aspect of the school!  We cannot thank them enough for their hard work, dedication and love they show to both our students and staff,” said Keith Hennig, Principal.

Issaquah Valley Elementary, Anne Taylor: We are so grateful to have you at IVE.  The support and work you give to our students, staff, and families is amazing! Thank you!,” the IVE Staff said.

Sunny Hills Elementary, Celina Schulenberg: “School Counselor extraordinaire, Ms. Schulenberg, was celebrated by both students and staff this week for National School Counselors Week. Ms. Schulenberg's positive support sets the tone for the whole school,” staff members said.

Briarwood Elementary, Belma Martin: "Belma is an amazing part of our Briarwood Bear Family. She takes time to know each of our Bears," Principal Tia Kleinkopf said. "She gets into classes and teaches important lessons about kindness and self-regulation just to name a couple. She works with small groups and individuals and is such a valuable member of our team! We all love Mrs. Martin!"

Thank you to our students, staff and families for helping us celebrate National School Counseling Week!