Jessica Datz, a student assistance counselor for the Clearview Regional High School District, is the Educational Services Professional of the Year for 2019-2020. As a counselor with an added drug and alcohol certification, she meets with kids for social, emotional, drug and alcohol-related reasons.
What makes Datz stand out in her profession is the fact that she has access to a plethora of different resources for students. As a member of the traumatic loss team and a collaborator with drug prevention programs, she feels the connections she’s made throughout her years as a counselor has been what’s helped her be the most valuable resource for students. Often times she will be the one to give students a name, program or somebody that could come in and help, a skill that only comes with years of relationship building, added Datz, and one that earned her the award.
“I thought it was very humbling,” said Datz, who noted she doesn’t like the spotlight. “I like to do more of the behind-the-scenes kind of work, but it was very thoughtful for people to notice.”
On a daily basis, Datz meets with students and coordinates with faculty, administration and outside resources. She goes to outside district meetings, where she meets with other SAC counselors to try to come up with programs and initiatives.
Her favorite thing about her profession is the fact that it’s different every day. In education, sometimes a teacher can find themselves doing the same thing and teaching the same concept, recalls Datz, who was an English teacher for 13 years before her current profession. Even though she loved teaching, she felt that she was ready for a change.
“I’d been teaching the same subject matter for a long time, so I just felt I needed a new challenge,” said Datz.
When she was a teacher, she tried to engage the students in a way where they felt empowered and as though they were important in the room and they had something to say. She started taking counseling classes at night while she taught during the day in order to receive the proper certification to transition into her role as a drug and alcohol-related counselor.
“I wanted to advocate for kids on a different level. I’ve done that in the classroom and then I felt like it was a nice way to transition,” said Datz.
As part of her award, Datz received a plaque, which sits on her desk, and a stipend toward an educational program of her choosing. She plans to bring in a speaker within the mental health area to speak to students.
The stipend helps her achieve what she considers to be one of the most challenging aspects of her profession – access to treatment and resources for students.