As college application season ramps up, seniors at the Westminster Schools in Buckhead are getting some award-winning advice from counselor Nancy Beane.
Beane recently won a national award from the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools. The Marty Elkins Award for Excellence in College Counseling is given to one counselor each year “to recognize those among us whose work enriches our profession,” according to the association’s website. Beane said she “was totally shocked and deeply honored” to receive the award.
Beane, an educator for 44 years, became a counselor at Westminster in 1992. She said she initially turned down the job, but now “cannot imagine doing anything else.”
Q: What do you do in your counselor position?
A: I meet with and advise students about possible colleges, possible majors, possible locations, etc. While I do not do school counseling (emotional and counseling dealing with learning issues), much of my work is broader than just the college process. As a college counselor, I start working with individual students when they are juniors and continue working with them through their senior year. I travel to a good many colleges each year, attend conferences of admissions representatives and college counselors, go to meetings at school, consult with teachers about my students’ work in their classes and attend many of my students’ activities.
Q: What keeps you going year after year?
A: I truly believe in the work I am doing. It’s my job to help equip students with the skills to continue their growth, to help them believe in themselves, to develop the determination to work hard and succeed, to learn how to think critically and problem solve and to learn how to work collaboratively. I still enjoy the work and am in awe of my students and all they do.
Early on, I became active in professional organizations. Through these groups, I have had numerous opportunities to focus more broadly on students and issues affecting them statewide, regionally, nationally and internationally. I have had tremendous concerns about the need for equity of opportunity and success for all students, whatever age, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, learning differences or other aspects of their lives.
There is so much work that needs to be done to make sure that that we meet the needs of all students and our work has become so much more complex through the years.
Q: What do you want to see in students you counsel?
A: I want to see them develop the confidence to know that they can succeed, to establish a strong work ethic that they will continue to develop as they become lifelong learners, to learn to think critically, to learn to work collaboratively, and to make an effort to establish mutual respect between themselves and all around them. I want them to know that the world truly needs their time, talents and skills and that they have a responsibility to give their best each and every day.
Q: What is your advice for high school seniors and their families?
A: The first piece of advice is to take a deep breath and to make sure they don’t allow the college application process to overwhelm them. By taking the process a step at a time, giving their best in and out of the classroom, not expecting that everything will go perfectly and truly putting the process in perspective, I think they will have a good outcome.
Where a student goes to college will not determine that person’s life in and of itself. What the students do with where they go is much more important than going to particular schools. I am concerned about much more than just where my students want to go to college and where they end up going. Understanding that the path won’t always be easy will make the journey more meaningful and workable in a lot of ways.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career?
A: I’m most proud of my students with whom I’ve worked through the years. I truly believe in each and every one, think every student has the potential to learn and to thrive in school, and I’m honored to have hopefully played some small role in their journey through life.
Q: What was your response when you found out you won the award?
A: I was totally shocked and deeply honored. I’ve had amazing opportunities and tremendous support in every school where I’ve worked, and I’m grateful to the profession and my colleagues in every school where I’ve served and in the professional organizations in which I have been a member.