Posted: Monday, January 28, 2019
Deb Blume, school counselor at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary, has been named School Counselor of the Year by the Palmetto State School Counselor Association. Blume began her career as a special education teacher and has been a lifelong advocate for mental health awareness.
“My email sign off is be well and do good. Be well and do good to me means I need to be well so I can do good. When I share that with people I want them to know that we have to take care of ourselves before we can go out into the world and do something good,” she says.
At A.J. Whittenberg Blume works with students on a one-on-one basis and teaches classroom lessons about making good choices.
“I share with them that your life is only an addition equation, there is no subtraction because once you have done something you cannot undo it. You can apologize, you can take responsibility, you can have consequences but you can’t take it back. We are going to make mistakes and mess up and it is totally okay, at AJ we say make mistakes, learn from them and move on,” Blume says.
Blume helped create a system at Whittenberg where students have a 911 person if they need help.
“We tell kids health is health and wellness is wellness. I can hold up a plate of potato chips and a plate of broccoli and say which one is healthy? We have done a great job of teaching them. Every child can identify the healthy and unhealthy choice. So my goal is that we can get to a place where we say here is a plate of gossip and here is a plate of kindness, here is a plate of generosity, here is a plate of rumor, and they start to realize that if I spread a rumor that is not only unkind but it is unhealthy for me, she says”
In Blume’s classroom students sing songs about friendship, repeat mantra about empowerment and read books about kindness.
“We work really hard to make sure the students understand what it means to be healthy. Most of the classrooms have the number 1440 up in the corner, that is how many minutes there are in the day. We work really hard to help them realize that if minutes were money would you spend them the same way, would you invest them, would you spend them freely or would you spend them recklessly? Would you be more intentional about how you spent your minutes if they were money?” Blume asks.