STOW — Eva Scarsella said her career in the schools started as a special education teacher.
"I found myself talking to the kids," Scarsella said. "I found I wanted to help them more."
To do that, Munroe Falls resident Scarsella decided to become a school counselor. Obviously, she has excelled in this position: Scarsella was recently named the Ohio School Counselor Association's Elementary School Counselor of the Year . She will be formally recognized for this honor at the association's annual conference Nov. 7 in Columbus.
"Traci [Kosmach, principal at Riverview Elementary School] told me, because we each got the email," Scarsella said. "I was shocked, really. I did the application in the spring so I'd forgotten about it."
Scarsella said she had been nominated by Carly Frey, a school counselor at Stanton Middle School in the Kent City Schools.
"We used to work together at Kimpton Middle School," Scarsella said.
Her students helped her with a video presentation, as did Kristen Ehret, technology integrationist with the district, for the Ohio School Counselor Association, Scarsella said of the application she had to send in.
All in all, this is Scarsella's 19th year as a school counselor, with 15 of those years at Kimpton Middle School. Currently, she is the school counselor for both Riverview and Indian Trail elementary schools.
Scarsella said that she loves working with the students.
"It's so fun to talk to them, find out about what they are doing, get hugs," she said. "We also have a great staff and administration. It's nice; everyone seems to work together so well."
John LaCoste, the principal at Indian Trail Elementary School, said that Scarsella divides her week between teaching five classes on skills such as handling stressful situations and ways to be a better student, and scheduling time to talk to teachers, small groups, parents and spend one-on-one time with the students.
Many things have changed in the counseling field since she first joined the ranks of school counselors, Scarsella said. There's more emphasis on social-emotional skills. There's also more issues regarding technology, she added.
"It's sometimes easier to write things on their phone, they may not say face-to-face," Scarsella said."Kids also spend more time on their phones and technology. They need more experience with social skills."
Another change is today, someone entering the field does not need to have teaching experience, although Scarsella said she would strongly advise future school counselors to spend some time in a classroom first.
"In the past, we used to have to be a teacher," Scarsella said. "I recommend they go into the teaching field. It helps a lot. You will understand better the issues of being in a school."
LaCoste said that Scarsella also has helped coordinate several other activities. Last year, she helped the school obtain 25 Thanksgiving Dinner Boxes from St. Stephen's Church for school families, a dinner box from Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, helped coordinate Christmas gifts from the Rotary for two families, and Christmas gifts for four families through First Christian Church in Stow. She helped get five families into Shop with a Cop, and 20 families received Easter baskets, dinner boxes and grocery store gift cards from St. Stephen's Church, among other activities.
Kosmach said that Scarsella has been working toward starting K-Kids at Riverview.
"It's a children's version of Kiwanis," Kosmach said. "We haven't had that for a long time."
"We already have 35 kids who have enrolled," Scarsella said. "And I’ve heard from more kids who might be interested, so we might have around 40."
K-Kids, Scarsella said, will be for third- and fourth-grade students interested in community service. This will "feed into the Builders Club at the middle school and the Key Club at the high school."
"This will go along with what I'm teaching in counseling class," Scarsella said. "It will help them to be leaders."
Lacoste said that the school counselors "make such a difference in well-being."
"Feeling cared about is priceless," Lacoste said. "Eva is wonderful in helping us out with that."
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC