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SAXAPAHAW, N.C. (WGHP) — Her classes look like ordinary elementary school lessons.

But Meredith Draughn isn’t a teacher. She’s the school counselor at B. Everette Jordan Elementary in Saxapahaw. She calls herself the catch-all: a resource hub with the tools for social and emotional learning.

“What are some tools they can put in our toolbox to help us kind of self-regulate in the classroom at home, whatever that looks like, just helping kids to learn those social, emotional skills and real skills that are going to help them be successful when they leave us right outside of the building,” she says.

Once a month she works with full classes helping them to see their potential through the clouds that can sometimes happen in their young lives.

“That is really kind of, my goal is to make sure kids are seeing, like, feeling known and, and having that space to say, okay, I can take a breath. I can share this with Ms. Draughn and me figuring out how we cannot fix it necessarily, but work through that together to where they’re either not dealing with it, or they feel like they can deal with it a little bit better by themselves.”

During COVID-19 she saw her job change. She helped the students focus on the positive and work through the negative.

“Pretty much all of my lessons last year were on, you know, how do we self-regulate? How, what are some tools that we can have, even though we don’t have our swish balls that like we have at school, right. We don’t have the breathing balls that we might use, but we have our hands. Right. So, we can breathe, breathe out, breathe in, you know, and, and use tools like that because kids still need a visual, they still need those, what they need to think they’re using a tool until they originally don’t, you know, or eventually don’t need their hands anymore.”

It was her work during COVID-19 that earned her the title of the North Carolina School Counselor of the Year.

She says she was so honored. “I was also like; I feel like I haven’t done half of my program this year. You know it could look so much different, but I do think that at the end of the day my program is about helping kids feel safe in themselves and loved. And like, hopefully, that has happened over the last year and a half with, with everything,” she says.

She says winning the award during a pandemic, makes it even more special.

“I think that if anything, it has given me confidence in the program that has been built here that it does work and it is what is best for children and that we stay the course. It’s a little bit different because kids’ needs are ever-changing. So, taking the time to do those needs assessments, taking the time to look through that data, taking the time to have those conversations with teachers sometimes feels daunting and it just is a lot. But then you see the outcomes of it and you’re like ‘yes, like that’s what should be done.'”

And that’s one of the many reasons she loves what she does. 

“This is my job,” she says. “I’m very lucky to get to do this. To get to come to school and hang out with kids all day.”

Where she can continue to be what’s right with our schools.