Old Kings Elementary School counselor Caitlin Hall notices the little things: When a child’s parents are too busy with their phones to notice the child’s elation at the rainbow in a puddle, or when a child is anxious because they’re not sure where their next meal is coming from, or when a ketchup stain on a child’s shirt that reveals that the child has worn the same one for several days in a row.
“I am not in education for the academics. I am in education with the hope and dream of helping at least one child, to make a difference in just one child’s life throughout my career."
— CAITLIN HALL, Old KIngs Elementary School Teacher of the Year
“I am not in education for the academics,” she wrote in an essay submitted as part of her Teacher of the Year application materials. “I am in education with the hope and dream of helping at least one child, to make a difference in just one child’s life throughout my career. I will always take the time to see the rainbow in the puddle, I will always make a child belly laugh with a lame joke I heard on TikTok, I will always provide food to a child in need, and I will always notice the little ketchup stain right next to their belly button.”
As the coordinator for behavior mutli-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) for her grade levels, Hall has seen a significant decrease in disciplinary referrals, from 354 in 2019-2020 to 188 in 2020-2021.
The MTSS system sets personalized goals and incentives for each student and helps them through proactive behavior management.
Hall has also been part of the core team for the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program, and has served as team lead this past year.
As a counselor, she doesn’t get as much classroom time with student as regular teachers.
“As a school counselor who pops into over 30 classrooms to complete 15-20-minute social-emotional lessons with students, I feel like I need to rely on strong instructional practices to be effective,” she wrote.
Those practices include using essential questions, modeling behavior and having students practice newly learned behavior independently, she wrote. She’s most proud of the relationships she’s built with students.
“I rotate with them each year from one grade to the next, so I am able to build meaningful relationships,” she wrote.
That can affect students across the school.
"As a school counselor, I wear many, many hats," she wrote. "I provide individual counseling services to any and all students who are in need. By providing this specific service, I am able to have a positive impact on students who may be struggling mentally/emotionally/socially, which in turn positively affects numerous classrooms."