Meet Gina Hilger, Sumter School District’s Teacher of the Year
Today we also have a shout out to the City of Sumter, South Carolina! Gina is a 6th-8th guidance counselor at Chestnut Oaks Middle inspiring hope wherever it is needed. Here is a bit of her story in her own words:
“I fell in love with counseling when I was in the Air Force. I was mentoring young cadets at the Air Force Academy who faced challenging academic, career, and social-emotional stressors. Helping the cadets successfully tackle life’s challenges motivated me to pursue school counseling in public education as a second career.
As a school counselor, my students often come to me tired, hungry, angry, sad, frustrated, bullied, and/or abused. The most satisfying part of my day is giving these students hope, resources, and strategies to use to persevere and make positive changes to achieve their life’s goals and dreams.
For those considering education as a career, always remember that you are much more than just a teacher of a specific subject or content area. You are a leader, mentor, coach, role model, and often a parent. You must inspire your students to discover and pursue their passions. You must model and teach them the “soft skills” – grit, resilience, empathy, respect, humility, and kindness. You must show them how to communicate, solve problems, resolve conflict, appreciate diversity, and think critically and creatively. Never underestimate the power and responsibility you possess to ensure your students graduate with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be successful in their future careers, to live happy and meaningful lives, and to be productive and courageous citizens.
Often, the lessons we impart and the impact we have on students may not be visible for years. These uncertainties do not justify giving up, but should fuel us to push even harder to make a positive difference.”

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