Nicole Pfleger (M.ed. '06): Making her own luck

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Nicole Pfleger

Nicole Pfleger (M.Ed. '06), named the 2012 School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association, has been working hard – building a community of support for children at Nickajack Elementary School in Smyrna, Ga.

Pfleger's efforts, which led to the honor from the ASCA, are described in this extended profile on the ASCA website.

"She is all of the usual adjectives used to describe a great counselor," Carolyn Glaze, Nickajack's homeless education tutor said of Pfleger. "She is caring, organized, empathetic, hardworking and kind. But it is her actions that set her apart from others."

The profile describes some of that work:

  • Pfleger has launched several initiatives to help homeless children in her school. She works with a shelter and helps ease the transition to school for homeless children.
  • She set up a learning center at the shelter, creating a space for children to do their homework, with supplies on hand and books for a range of reading levels.
  • She created a weekly bridge program at the shelter to give children academic time during summer breaks.
  • Pfleger launched a math tutoring program for the school's economically disadvantaged children.
  • A challenge to Nickajack students led to the establishment of a DREAM Team (Demonstrating Respect Everyday to Achieve More), in which 15 boys meet twice a week in small groups with male mentors to talk about positive behavior and character development.
  • She helped establish the school's Kindness and Compassion (KC) Club, in which about 80 students talk about how to promote kindness and work on service projects.

Through it all, Pfleger measures results, then works to improve her programs from what she learns from the data. She cites her training in the School of Education's school counseling program as teaching the use of research and data in program revision and strategy implementation.

Throughout her work, Pfleger said she strives to build and strengthen relationships.

"To feel like you can reach out to other people and in some very small way, possibly, have an impact on them, that's motivation."