According to her administrators, Jessica Schumacher is "the poster child for a counselor," an educator who "does what's best for the kids, no matter what."
Schumacher, who has served as the guidance counselor at Williamsburg Elementary for four years, was recently named the Elementary Counselor of the Year by the Mid-Missouri School Counselor Association. The honor makes her eligible for the same recognition from the Missouri School Counselors Association.
Schumacher said she was "very humbled, very surprised and felt very blessed" when she learned of the honor.
"I've got a great group of counselors in the district and have had administrators - past and present - who have played an important role ... I could not do that without any of them," she said.
Schumacher said working as a school counselor was something she always wanted to do.
"I like working with the kids, and I am also interested in the mental-health field, so this is a wonderful combination," Schumacher said.
At Williamsburg, Schumacher visits every classroom for 30 minutes each week. She also does small-group counseling on topics like friendship, grief, conflict resolution and anger management, as well as individual counseling "based on whatever the students need at the time."
"I love it all," Schumacher said when asked what she enjoys most about working with the students. "I think the most rewarding thing is watching how they grow over the years and seeing them be successful.
"I like just seeing them come to school every day and knowing we're providing them with a safe place."
According to Schumacher, a good school counselor needs to be flexible, patient and "just kind of ready to take on anything" - all qualities she said she works on.
The biggest challenge, Schumacher said, is trying to figure out what approach will work best with each student.
"No kid goes through anything the same way," Schumacher said. "Every student is different, so finding a way you're going to get through to them (is a challenge)."