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Sadie Sturdivant, counselor at Columbia Elementary School, has received the “Asa Sparks New Counselor of the Year Award.” CONTRIBUTED

Sadie Sturdivant at Columbia awarded for counseling

MADISON – Sadie Sturdivant may be new to campus, but she already is garnering awards for her work.

Sturdivant received the “Asa Sparks New Counselor of the Year Award.” “This is indeed my first year as a school counselor, and it has been wonderful so far,” she said about working at Columbia Elementary School.

Only one Asa Sparks award is issued annually and is an especially high honor for a first-year counselor.

At Columbia, Sturdivant sponsors the Astro Ambassador Program for eS2S or elementary Student 2 Student, a student-led program to intentionally care of new students. “This organization allows me to invest in Columbia’s young leaders,” Sturdivant said.

“Specifically, one of my goals was to help new students and families feel an immediate connection with Columbia,” Sturdivant said. After training, ambassadors are giving school tours and teaching conversation skills.

“Now on new students’ first day, they receive a personalized tour from a student ambassador and a welcome packet. Ambassador tours provide new students with at least one friendly face on their first day.

Sturdivant’s first introduction to Madison City Schools was substitute teaching in 2020-2021. Her work helped during a substitute shortage and familiarized her with the district.

She also completed internships at Madison Elementary School with Stefanie Cook and Bob Jones High School with Tim Van Dorn. “Hands-on experience with seasoned school counselors was so beneficial. I’m deeply appreciative,” Sturdivant said.

“MCS has an incredible reputation across Alabama. I’ve lived in Montgomery, Auburn and Birmingham; in all three cities, people talked about how incredible MCS is,” Sturdivant said. “I consider it a great joy to be a staff member.”

Sturdivant’s counseling philosophy is based on Solution-Focused Brief Counseling or SFBC and Person-Centered Therapy. SFBC, a common theory for counselors, is concise, effective and enables counselors in helping more students quickly. (Gatlin & Bryant, 2016).

“There’s a basic assumption that children (can) change. Students can tap into their inner strength, previous successes and personal resources to solve problems,” Sturdivant said.

Person-centered therapy has core beliefs of empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard (Corey, 2017). “The theory guides me to help students take responsibility for their own growth and healing,” Sturdivant said.

In her room, Sturdivant wanted a counseling space where children can feel safe; she created a peace/calm-down corner. “I have a comfy chair, gel tiles connected to emotions and a box with breathing techniques, fidgets and cool-down exercises,” she said. This peace corner has helped to decrease anxiety levels, learn self-regulation and manage stress.

Students are learning to advocate for themselves. “My students have started to realize they need the peace corner. They ask their teacher (to) see the counselor,” Sturdivant said.

School counselors ‘wear numerous hats.’ A core value in counseling is empathy. She listens to teachers and collaborates with parents for a student’s full picture.

In addition, Sturdivant communicates with Columbia’s advisory council so they can advocate for Columbia’s counseling program, along with students’ academic, personal and career growth. These stakeholders have influence in school, with parents and the community.

A Montgomery native, Sturdivant earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and in Spanish at Auburn University. At the University of North Alabama, she received a master’s degree in school counseling. She has status as Nationally Certified Counselor.

Her husband Sam works as an account manager for Ingersoll Rand. Their golden retriever, Hoby, is a source of fun.

Most people don’t know that Sadie was Homecoming Queen at Auburn University. Another fun fact, a road in Harvest, Allyson Sadie Boulevard, is named after Sadie and her sister.

Sadie’s hobbies include walking Hoby, cooking, dancing, shopping and ‘hanging out’ with friends and family. Sadie and Sam are active at Summit Crossing Community Church.

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