BILLINGS - A Billings school counselor is the Counselor of the Year in the state of Montana.
Students, teachers, principal and the staff at Ponderosa Elementary School are all excited for Chad Jackson.
Jackson has been at Ponderosa for 11 years and the Montana School Counselor Association awarded him the School Counselor of the Year on at its annual meeting in Billings Thursday.
"So it was actually really humbling," Jackson said. "Because you probably could have given that award out to a hundred school counselors across the state."
Several criteria go into choosing the award, including originality, achievement and dedication.
"Help them to develop skills and empower them so that they can handle all the the curves that life and society is thrown at him right now," Jackson said about working with students.
Jackson works with students in kindergarten through fifth grade and prepares them for middle school and beyond.
"One of my jobs is to help them and reassure them," he said. "And balance how much information is healthy for them. And at the end of the day, what we're hoping is that they can feel safe so that they can learn while they're here at school."
And he says school counselors are needed today more than ever.
"Students, high schoolers, teenagers are faced with more than any generation has probably had to deal with and cope with," Jackson said. "Maybe ever."
He connects with kids every day, something important for parents, teachers and the principal.
"You can see him light up, they run, give him a hug," said Clay Herron, Ponderosa principal. "He definitely has built that an awesome you know, counselor relationship with the students here."
"My advice would be to work so hard to connect with kids and to engage with them and to learn about what's going on in their life," Jackson said. "And to hear that and listen and to let them know that they matter."