COLUMBUS-- Angie Kruse, a counselor at Columbus Middle School was honored last fall as the Nebraska Middle School Counselor of the Year. She thought the award from the Nebraska School Counselors Association was quite the honor. 

But that wasn't the end of it.

On Thursday, NSCA president Jerry Wiggins was in town. He surprised Kruse with a new award: Nebraska Counselor of the Year.

“Each year we select three counselors from three different educational levels,” Wiggins explained. “We choose an outstanding counselor in the state that is an advocate to their students to help them thrive and reach their potential.”

The unsuspecting Kruse accepted her award at CMS with tears and a word of thanks.

“It’s such an incredible honor to get this,” Kruse said. “It was great to get the middle school award, but I never thought I was going to get this, too. Nebraska has a lot of good counselors, and it’s nice to be recognized. But it isn’t just about me. This is about my colleagues and the great counseling team I’m a part of.”

Wiggins said counselors are key to a school's team of educators.

“The role a counselor plays is crucial to their students,” Wiggins said. “First and foremost, the counselor is there for the students. Their job is to be there for any support, mainly social, emotional and academic.”

Kruse has been a counselor at Columbus Middle School since 2005. Prior to that, she was a special education teacher for seven years in Schuyler and at West Park Elementary School in Columbus.

She is assigned as the counselor for the entire sixth-grade class of about 280 students plus 70 fifth-graders. She touches base with each student by holding small-group lunches. Kruse and other CMS counselors also spend time in the classroom teaching lessons on a variety of topics, including identifying bullying.

During her time at CMS, Kruse has helped usher in the importance of teaching middle school students about postsecondary education by taking students on college visits.

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