Encouragement. Kindness. Dedication. These three words do not even begin to scratch the surface of the amazing woman Sandpoint has the honor of calling its post-secondary transition counselor, but it’s a start. Sandpoint High School is made up of wonderful teachers and inspiring individuals. Students, parents, and the community in general, are incredibly lucky to have them all in the lives of our youth. One individual in particular was recently nationally recognized as Idaho Counselor of the Year.
Jeralyn Mire, a true character of the Sandpoint area, received the honor of being Idaho’s Counselor of the Year, and what an honor it was to be had—and a well-deserved award to be given. To obtain this recognition is a process. Jeralyn was nominated two years ago. The selection process through Idaho School Counselor Association consists of filling out an application and submitting documentation of the things the counselor has done for the school. Three counselors are chosen: one high school, one middle school and one elementary school. Out of those three, only one is chosen to represent the state at the national level.
As Jeralyn and her family made their way across the country to the White House, she used the trip more as a learning experience more than anything else. Kristi Mire, her daughter and a 2012 Sandpoint High School graduate, had the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. as well.
“My mom was her normal outgoing self, making friends left and right. However, she was not just there for the recognition. She was looking to learn from every counselor she met, gaining ideas for the counseling program here in Sandpoint,” said Kristi.
After talking with many counselors and learning about their own individual school programs, Jeralyn realized that Sandpoint has a pretty amazing program. For being a small town school, the resources and events the counseling center provides are quite substantial and somewhat ahead of the game. From Declaration Day and the college fairs to taking the time to enter each classroom and help students reach their true potential, the counseling center is hands on.
Jeralyn’s expectations of her visit to the White House were blown away with what events she actually had the honor of experiencing. She thought the evening would include shaking the hands of the Department of Education members and sitting in the audience for Michelle Obama’s farewell address. Never did Jeralyn think she would find herself directly behind Michelle, let alone give the First Lady a hug. Her first thought, having the sense of humor that she does, was “do not faint or do anything dumb!” as she was completely moved by Michelle’s words about the youth of the nation.
When asked about Michelle and her direct contact, Jeralyn could not stray away from the fact of how genuine and inspiring she was and how incredibly thankful she was for the encouragement these counselors give to their students. There was one thing that Michelle said that was Jeralyn’s most inspirational moment. She was in awe of the way that Michelle addressed the young people of America. Jeralyn shared, “Michelle made it clear that you can do anything you want to do. It’s your story, you can do it, but it’s going to take work.” Everyone is going to have their ups and downs. Everyone is going to have their struggles, but you have to be willing to put in the work. “I really appreciated that,” Jeralyn said. “It was honest and inspiring, but there is work to be put in to get to where you want to be.”
Jeralyn has helped countless students at the high school reach their goals. Every year, students are constantly going in and out of her office, asking questions, bringing drafts of personal statements, and simply seeking support and encouragement for their plans after graduation. No matter what each student’s goal after school was, Jeralyn served as a helping hand for the beginning steps of their journeys.
Ryan Schwartz, a 2012 SHS graduate who is in his second semester of graduate school at Boise State, had words of gratitude and praise for Jeralyn. She helped Schwartz tremendously with scholarships, applications and the mindset of taking that next step. The pressure of the process is sometimes quite overwhelming. Schwartz said, “All it took were some chats with Jeralyn to turn the unease into excitement about my future. She makes the daunting feel attainable.”
Another student who just received her acceptance letter from Warren Wilson College in South Carolina had words of thanks for Jeralyn as well. After going through the Early Decision application process, Jacqueline Owens, soon-to-be-graduate of 2017, said that Jeralyn was always there to check in with her on her application make sure her Common Application was at its highest caliber. One thing that Owens said the biggest take away from her experience with Jeralyn was how to prioritize and the necessity and importance of meeting deadlines. Also, Jeralyn could not reiterate enough, not only to Owens but to all students, “the importance of putting all of your effort into that application.” Whether the application was for college, a job or the military, each student needed to put as much of themselves into their writing. Jeralyn believes in every student, and she is very in tune with recognizing that all students have that potential. No matter what each path the student wants to take, Jeralyn helps each individual realize their strengths and abilities to get to be where they want to be.
Although Jeralyn was the one chosen to represent the state and travel to the White House to be nationally recognized, she made it clear that it was not just an award for herself. The support and work that the entire school district puts into the kids of our community is who deserves the award.
“Watching students grow and change is beautiful to watch”, Jeralyn exclaimed. “That is why I love my job. Being able to let students know that whatever you want your life to be, you can obtain that.” That is the mindset that many, if not all of the teachers and counselors throughout the district strive for in the workplace. That is the reason why Jeralyn could not stop reiterating, “This award really needs to be shared by the Sandpoint community. It has taken a lot of people to get where we are and have the programs we do. It is important for people to know that it is a team award.” This award, although Jeralyn had the honor of representing the team, is true representation of what Sandpoint has done and will continue to do for the youth of our community.