Supportive staff makes South counselor’s job a bit easier

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

As the only school counselor for more than 500 middle school students, it would be easy for Chelsea Keaton-Surber to feel overwhelmed.

But she doesn’t.

She has plenty of help from every member of the South Davie Middle School team.

“If it was just me, I would feel very overwhelmed, but we all work together,” she said. “I love that this school has such a great culture. You always have support at South Davie. It’s amazing what can happen when people come together.”

On the day of the interview, teacher Brent Wall was in the main hallway, greeting students by name.

“He really knows how to make a kid feel good,” she said. “But I work with a lot of amazing people who help me to be a better school counselor.”

Her days are always different, and always involve a student experiencing some kind of emotional, behavior or family problem.

“It’s hard to be a kid these days. Every kid has a story. And I see a number of kids who are in crisis every day.”

Some of the families of students need support, and she tries to be or help find that support.

A native of Yadkin County, Chelsea earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree in counseling from Wake Forest University.

“I knew that I loved education and helping people. I prayed and prayed and decided that school counseling was my calling.”

She is on her fifth year at South Davie.

“This is where I’m supposed to be. The kids here are wonderful and we love them through everything. I love the way these kids show up for one another, the way these kids get excited about donating to help others.”

Part of her job is introducing students to opportunities available to them in high school and beyond.

“You get to see the kids super excited, to see that spark when they see that the doors are wide open to them. I talk to sixth graders about finding their voice, and to ask for help when they need it.

“South Davie is my family and I’m glad to be here.”