Making A Difference Guest Post

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Vanessa, a K-5 school counseling colleague from North Carolina. Vanessa is a Disney fanatic and is always fantasizing about her next trip to see THE MOUSE or walking along the beach of Disney's private island - Castaway Cay! She is the mother of one beautiful daughter and one playful miniature schnauzer. When she's not working, Vanessa enjoys singing and spending time with extended family. She is the author of the Savvy School Counselor blog where she shares lesson ideas, her favorite counseling literature and resources, and other creative tips for school counselors. She is National Board Certified and offers and ongoing blog series of 
tips and suggestions for candidates pursuing 
National Board Certification in school counseling. 

Making A Difference by Vanessa Allen 

I love plants! I’ve never really had a green thumb necessarily, but I have found a couple of species that I’d have to almost set fire to for them to die. Since I’ve discovered them, they’re all I buy. I have eleven plants scattered throughout my house. I water them, make sure they have appropriate sunlight, and re-pot the ones needing more room to grow.

As I was watering my plants the other day, I noticed one of them looked a little more wilted than the others. I thought about how just supplying water would make a difference for that plant. That plant needed someone to care for it and to help make things better just like the students I come in contact with everyday at my school. 

Students sometimes show up to school looking “wilted” because of their day-to-day experiences. My job is to check in with them in an effort to help them feel supported and able to cope with their circumstances. It happens regularly, and I, like most school counselors, do what I have been trained to do to help my students. Moreover, I truly care about their well-being and want to make a difference in their lives.

School counselors help students dozens of times throughout the academic year without a need for praise. Once in a while, however, we get a glimpse into how our work has benefited a student. For me, that glimpse came when a student wrote how I made a difference in her life because I always told her class never to give up and gave good advice. Another glimpse was when a teacher told me how appreciative a student’s parents were because I worked with their child in a small group during their divorce.

Well, as Barbara once said, affirmations and appreciations can positively turn your life around. My third glimpse did just that!

It was the last day of school this year when the mother of one of our fifth graders approached me. Before saying a word, she placed her hand on her heart as tears came to her eyes. Now, I am a big cry baby; I get teary eyed watching a touching Hallmark commercial! So, it took all I had not to begin crying too. She went on to thank me for being there for her son during the six years he had attended our school. She was especially thankful for me supporting him after her stroke a year before. She went on to say, “They need you here. What you do here is important.”  This affirmation helped solidify the importance of the work we as school counselors do every day, and it really touched my heart. We don’t do what we do for fanfare or accolades, but simply because we love and care for the students at our schools.

It’s wonderful to see students who were once distressed become, like my plant, stronger, resilient, and able to stand the test of time. Often, it takes awhile to see the results of our assistance. Yet, when we do see the results, it makes what we do everyday worthwhile. When it’s all said and done, it feels so good to know you’ve made a difference!

 A HUGE thanks to Vanessa for taking time out from her summertime R and R to share some words of wisdom with us.  


  1. Thanks Vanessa for what you do. Your school is lucky to have you.

    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Thanks for sharing, Vanessa! You are so right - we often don't get affirmations and appreciation for our jobs, so when we do, it is like a burst of beautiful! Hope you are enjoying some fun and getting some rest! Barbara, I can't tell you how much I lean on you for ideas, inspiration and encouragement! I learned SO much in your session on empathy in February and am hoping to share it with our staff members in August!
    Blessings to both of you!!
    Becky Kahn

    1. WoW Becky, thank you for your kind words of affirmation. I can tell that you're a blessing to your staff!

    2. Thank you, Becky. Blessings to you as well!

      Barbara, I know I've said thank you several times already, but one more couldn't hurt, right? :) Thank you!!

  3. So glad I stopped by to read this post! I love the analogy of a student in need to a wilted plant. I think counselors are a godsend and I'm so blessed to work with a good one - your post reminded me to TELL her that next time I see her!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  4. A lovely post, Vanessa! You sound like a special teacher :)

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

  5. Thank you Jennifer and Barbara! I am so glad you enjoyed reading the post.

  6. Vanessa I also loved the plant analogy!!! Thanks for sharing this! Enjoy the day!



I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!