Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

Doctoral Student is Counselor of the Year

by Jordan Orris

Amy KingDoctoral student in Counselor Education, Amy King, was recently named Mississippi Counseling Association’s School Counselor of the Year. A very well deserved award for the Oxford Elementary School counselor, she was nominated by her colleagues for her outstanding empathy and community-building skills. Ms. King is in her 25th year of education, 19 of those years being in counseling.

Here is an interview with Ms. King, in which the Graduate School is noted as GS.

GS: What was your reaction to winning the award?
Amy King: “I was really surprised and humbled to be chosen for this award. My doctoral work is related to advocacy and supporting the work of school counselors across the state of Mississippi, so I hope to be able to reach out to other counselors to offer support and encouragement for their work. There are so many amazing counselors doing fantastic work with kids across our state. I am very fortunate to live in Oxford and to have been a part of the Oxford School District, where I am surrounded by outstanding administrators, teachers, students, and parents.”

GS: I understand you are a Doctoral student at the University. Do you feel things you’ve learned in this program helped you attain Counselor of the Year?
Amy King: “This is my fourth year in the doctoral program [Counselor Education] here at the University of Mississippi. Each semester, I am able to take at least 3 hours, and sometimes I am able to take 6 hours, while working full-time as a school counselor. I have learned so much from my professors and being a part of this program. I am thankful for Dr. Amanda Winburn, who has mentored me throughout the program. The Department of Leadership and Counselor Education at the University has an amazing group of professors, who have encouraged and challenged me academically and professionally. I believe in scholarship, which is the act of continuing to learn in an effort to enhance my work as a professional. The field of counseling is in a constant state of change due to the ongoing research that occurs in the field. It is important to be informed regarding practice.”

GS: What is your educational path and what led you to this point?
Amy King: “I completed my master’s degree in 1996 from the University of Mississippi in Counselor Education. I began my career as a school counselor in 1999, and served as a site supervisor for the University of Mississippi. The Department of Leadership and Counselor Education has added courses throughout my career, that I have had the opportunity to take, that were not available during my master’s program. I completed my specialist degree from the University of Mississippi in 2008. I had the opportunity to take play therapy courses for licensure after completing my specialist. By serving as a site supervisor, I have been inspired by my students to stay in school to continue learning in the field to improve my work as a counselor. I have learned a great deal from my fellow doctoral students and the coursework that I have had the opportunity to take, along with the research regarding school counseling that I am involved in.”

GS: What is your advice for someone looking to have a career as a school counselor?
Amy King: “Advocacy is the cornerstone of a school counselor’s work. It is crucial to involve your administrators, teachers, students, and parents in the school counseling program. The program should hold benefits for all students and should follow a larger picture of success and empowerment for the student population. A school counselor is only going to be as effective as the team of support that work together to help all students achieve success and happiness. Self care is also crucial to a school counselor’s work. I work hard to maintain the balance of hard work and taking care of both my physical and mental state. I have to be at my best to be able to be a positive force of change within my school.”

GS: What is a typical day for you?
Amy King: “I have a set of planned activities each day; such as classroom guidance, individual and group counseling, administrative meetings, and parent/teacher conferences. I keep a weekly schedule that I share with administrators and teachers. But the best parts of my day are all the unexpected hugs, blessings, and random interactions that involve helping children, families, teachers and sometimes incorporating social justice. I am very fortunate to work in a profession that helps others on a daily basis.”

GS: Anything else you may want us to know about you?
Amy King: “I believe that the school counselor is the heart of any school. Our work can save lives and inspire students for a brighter future. Counseling is a calling and can be such important work. I love my work so much and feel so grateful to be a part of the field.”