When Sara Moore, a counselor at Soldotna High School, went to a professional development conference in Anchorage this fall, she had no idea she'd be bringing home more than some added insights into her work.
Moore, 53, has worked in education her entire career, and specifically at SoHi for the past 13 years.
In November when she went the Alaska School Counselor Association Professional Development Conference, she learned that her service had not gone unnoticed.
Moore was presented with the State Counselor of the Year Award, to her complete surprise, she said.
"Any recognition by your peers, it's a humbling and uplifting," she said. "It came for me at a time when I was questioning my effectiveness. It's re-energizing."
Todd Syverson, principal at SoHi, said Moore's award came as no surprise to him.
"Without question I've worked with many great counselors and I've been spoiled rotten, but Sara Moore rises to the cream of the crop," Syverson said.
Syverson said Moore's "unselfish" attitude toward meeting the needs of students despite her own workload, and helping them develop strong academic tracks through their high school careers, were all reasons she was qualified to win.
Moore admitted she has a history when it comes to making time for students, and it goes back to her own high school experience. As a student, she said her counselor met with her once the entire time she was in school, something that always struck her as being wrong.
"A goal of mine is to always greet students at my door no matter how big the pile of stuff on my desk might be," she said. "To meet them as they're the number one priority in my life at that moment and give them my undivided attention."
Moore said her work, including having served as a past president, with the counselor association likely played a role in her winning the award.
Additionally she said she's been active in developing statewide programs.
Moore said the award came at a critical time for her.
"It gives me an adrenaline boost that what I'm doing is not so bad and that maybe I'm not that counselor I had, and that I can impact kids more than that," she said.
Dante Petri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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