LU alumna wins counselor of the year award

Each time Lamar University alumna Monica Fricke ‘14 signs off on an email, she attaches a quote: “Let joy be your compass,” author unknown. It’s certainly an award-winning philosophy that she incorporates in her interactions with students every day as Brenham Middle School’s counselor.

Fricke, who earned her Master of Education in Counseling and Development at LU, was recently awarded Counselor of the Year by Region 6 — an honor for which she was nominated by the Brenham Independent School District’s Lead Counselor Julie Haferkamp.

Fricke was taking her children to get sno-cones when she got a call from Haferkamp. Monica Fricke

“I thought something may be important, so I answered. She asked me if I was sitting down. I couldn’t imagine what she was about to say,” Fricke said. “My jaw dropped! I couldn’t believe it. I kept telling her that I was shocked and stunned! Needless to say, I stepped out of line as I wiped away tears of excitement for even being considered.”

However, the LU alum noted that she didn’t earn this award on her own; it was a team effort.

“This award is 100% a group effort. I have had a super supportive principal last year and this year that sees the positive changes we're making in the lives of our students,” Fricke said. “I don't feel like this award is for me at all. This award is due to the changes we're making and lives we're impacting on a daily basis. This award means our district is on the right track to reach our students and where they are. Who could ask for more?”

Fricke said she first became interested in becoming a school counselor when she realized she loved getting to know students on a different level.

“As a teacher, your focus is on their academic achievement and supporting students in reaching their potential,” she said. “In the school counseling role, you’re doing something similar, just on a different level. As a school counselor, you’re able to give students tools to help support them when they may steer off track. Students have so many distractions that can pull them away from their journey to success. I love that our role involves the whole child. We’re helping students with all aspects of their life so that they can see that academic success. Our role can be so heartwarming and rewarding.”

This approach — one of supporting the child as a whole — is how Fricke views her role as a school counselor.

“I say a prayer every morning before I get to work that we reach every child. I want to reach the students that come to school ready to learn. I want to reach the students that come to school with the distractions that keep them from wanting to learn,” she said. “Our role is to unveil a glimpse of the success that is at their fingertips. Opportunity awaits … we just have to ignite the light within.”

All of this, Fricke added, would not have been possible without Lamar University’s stellar school counseling program, which allowed her to see students in a new light.

“The LU program allowed me to look at my students in a different light while I was still teaching and managing my coursework. I started to see my students differently once I started my program. I started to really see beyond that student and how they were performing academically. There is so much to each student beyond a grade average,” she said. “I knew I was in the program meant for me once I started my first course through LU. I absolutely loved what I was learning! The collaboration with other students in the program was amazing. I loved hearing their ideas/real life examples as we participated in discussions that related to each class.

“Thank you, LU, for opening a door of opportunity to become a school counselor and grow from so many educators I have crossed paths with!”