“I’ve truly learned over the years that things aren’t black and white. You gotta be flexible. Accept everybody in their uniqueness and greatness. Everybody’s different.”
— outgoing Craig Middle School counselor Michelle Henderson about her time at CMS.
After three and a half years as the counselor at Craig Middle School, Michelle Henderson’s last day was Friday.
Moving to Owatonna, Minn., for her husband's job, Henderson feels it’s the right thing for her and her family.
But during her last week as CMS counselor, Henderson reflected on the things she’s learned and lessons she’s left behind during her time at CMS.
“I’ve been in Craig for 10 years and Craig’s been good to us," Henderson said. "This job opportunity came up and we decided to go for it and take on the new adventure.”
Henderson said she enjoyed the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of Craig when she first came to the town as a young mom and said she enjoyed getting to know the community.
As for her time at CMS, Henderson said the students made her time there memorable.
“The students make my day, every day," Henderson said. "They truly are amazing, and even though they give us struggles, each one of them is wonderful. They’ve been really good to me. It’s the hardest part about leaving. They’re great kids. They’re wonderful.”
Working with children can be rewarding, and Henderson said in her role as counselor the most rewarding aspect was sharing hope with kids.
“Just knowing that you gave somebody hope," Henderson said. "You can see they are ready to move on to the next day and that kid knows, ‘somebody does care about me. They meet their goals and see the joy and pride in themselves when they reach that goal is awesome.”
Henderson said the most difficult aspect of her role as counselor was trying to meet everybody’s needs and juggling the role of advocate for student while still understanding the teacher’s side.
“It can be difficult to maintain that fine line between helping a student and not enabling,” Henderson said.
A lesson she’ll leave with her students, “You are in control of your life.”
“Life is about choices and there’s positive and negative consequences you choose,” Henderson said. “ I also want every student to know that there is hope and that they’re loved. Every teacher in this building loves their students. We have hard days but we love these kids. Each and every one of them.”
With a background in counseling and not education, Henderson said her colleagues helped her adjust to working in a middle school.
Before coming to CMS, Henderson was a counselor at Hayden High School for four years. She said there is a big difference between working in a small high school and large middle school.
“They’ve taught me a lot about what middle school counseling is," Henderson said. "I didn’t come from an education background, I came from counseling. They’ve taught me how to balance that and encouraged me along the way.”
As for the lessons she’s learned from her students, Henderson said she’s learned to be more flexible.
“I’ve truly learned over the years that things aren’t black and white, you gotta be flexible," Henderson said. "Accept everybody in their uniqueness and greatness. Everybody’s different.”
Henderson said she is proud of CMS and believes in what they’re doing. She said she doesn’t want anyone to think she’s running away, rather she said she’s doing what’s best for her family.
“We’re doing great things. The district is moving in the right direction in many areas,” Henderson said. “I’m excited to check in down the road and see what great things they’ve accomplished.”
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org