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Devine Intervention

Taft Counselor Makes Impact On School Culture, Students

Jazzia Barrios, Reporter

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     School counselor Karen Devine has proven herself to her colleagues and students that her hard work and dedication to Taft has been a great addition to the school and has made it a better place with each year.

     Not only did Devine study at Northeastern University for her English degree, but she also studied at Knox College and Chicago State University for teaching, and received a type 75 administrative certificate at DePaul, a certificate that gives her the ability to become assistant principal.  

     In the years leading up to Devine’s arrival at Taft, she  had previously lived in Costa Rica for a year after college teaching English and writing for several years. She later returned to school to receive her master’s degree for counseling. After teaching in Costa Rica in a squatters settlement, she taught at Bowen High School and St. Scholastica Academy before arriving at Taft.

    Devine knew she wanted to be a teacher, but something about the job didn’t meet her expectations. This lead her to realize that she wanted to help her students not only academically but emotionally throughout their school years.

     “I think as a teacher I always had felt that students have come to me after class or I’d see a student struggling and I would want to help them. Whether it be emotional or family issue I kind of just thought ‘I like school, I really do,’ so I thought maybe I’ll go to school to learn those skills. So even if I’m their teacher, I can assist them with their emotional side too,” said Devine.

     Aside from the aspects of the job she has come to love, Devine admits there have been challenges and aspects she wishes she could change.

     “I find the only difficult thing about this job is that you do lots of different things. It’s not just social and emotional counseling. It would be fun to have times where I just could be with students one on one for 45 minute sessions and work with them focused, but in a high school environment there’s families walking in, there’s testing to help with, there’s meetings. All of that stuff is important and it makes the days sometimes a little disjointed. The hardest part is trying to find the balance between students and families,” said Devine.

     Devine loves her job and all of her students that she counsels, but unfortunately her busy schedule, as one of the nine counselors at Taft, doesn’t allow for as much time as she would prefer with her students. Devine keeps busy with the ongoing events at Taft and goes above and beyond to support the school.

     Devine won Taft’s Heart of the School award last June due to the years of hard work and dedication she has devoted to Taft.

     The Heart of the School award is an award presented to a teacher in an assembly held at the end of the school year by Principal Mark Grishaber. It is awarded to a teacher who goes out of their way to do their best for the school. The winner of the award is determined by an overall vote from all the teachers.

     “The Heart of the School Award embodies everything that is right and true about our  choice to be in education. The recipient of the award goes to the person who goes above and beyond what is expected of them, is a team player and is a rockstar at school,” said Athletic Director Ryan Glowacz.

     Devine was surprised when she found out that fellow teachers had chosen her to be the recipient for the Heart of the School Award.

     “I was very surprised but also very happy. I think most every one of us can win that award because all of our hearts and souls are here but it was nice that colleagues see and feel that I am trying to do my best for the students and families here,” said Devine.

     Apart from counseling, Devine is also involved with the transfer and exchange students. Along with fellow counselor Chloe Soto, they run a coping skills group to help students with their anxiety and stress.

    Throughout her career, Devine has had many accomplishments which have only continued to prove her dedication to Taft and to her overall passion for education.

     “The accomplishments I’m proud of is National Recognition for Counseling Departments called RAMP (Recognized ASCA Modeling Program). I think what I am most proud of is that Roosevelt became a RAMP department and it’s not just an individual award, it’s for the whole counseling department. It shows that you serve students academically, socially, emotionally and post secondary and you do it well,” said Devine.

     In the near future, Devine hopes to teach counseling at a college level. Until then Taft’s students and staff will continue to love and appreciate Ms. Devine and all the hard work she does for Taft!

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