Compassionate approach earns Holyrood guidance counsellor a provincial award

By Mark Squibb/July 22, 2022

Holy Cross Elementary guidance counselor Holly Healey of Hollyrood is one of 10 teachers to receive a 2022 Minister’s Award for Compassion in Teaching.

Healey said that even being nominated by her fellow colleagues was an honour

“I was overwhelmed with gratitude, to know that my colleagues took the time to nominate me,” said Healey. “It meant a lot. The role of a guidance councillor is often very solitary, and a lot of things go unnoticed, but it is humbling to be noticed.”

As a guidance counsellor, compassion is a part of her job description.

“I don’t do this job for the recognition, it’s not why I do what I do, I do it for the kids,” said Healey. “But to know that when you go a little bit above and beyond, and you put your heart and soul into your job, that people notice, it is nice.”

Healey had no idea that her fellow colleagues had even nominated her,

“One day my colleague asked me about something I did, and how I went about doing it, and I thought it was odd, but that was where I left it, I didn’t think anything else of it,” said Healey, who also calls Holyrood home.

“Holy Cross is not just a building and not just a school to me,” said Healey. “This is where I grew up, this is actually where I went to school when I was a little girl. So, a lot of the people in the community and their children I’ve known for a long time. A lot of the children, I went to school with their parents.”

Sadly, the school lost a staff friend and colleague Dawn Sullivan in November 2021.

“She was like my mentor,” said Healey. “So, it was quite hard on myself, going though this loss. But I think what really stood out to my school colleagues was how I pushed that aside at the time because I knew my job was to help them through it and help the kids through it and figure out a way to memorialize her.”

Healey also helped form the school’s first Genders & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) Club.

“There was never ever a push for it or a need for it,” said Healey. “But the year before, I started one for the Grade 6’s because I did have a few kids request that. So, making those kids feel included and represented in our school community, and even some of our teachers on staff, benefited from that group as well.”

Part of her daily tasks is to help students deal with social and, emotional health, including what to do when they feel anxious or overwhelmed or confused.

“My sole job is to ensure that the social well being and mental health of my students and staff is okay,” said Healey. “My job is to make sure that when everybody comes into this building everyday, that they feel like they belong here, that they feel happy to be here, that they are achieving, and that they are successful, and that at the end of the day they are accomplishing things.”

Her work requires her to frequently work with outside organizations, such as Eastern Health, the RCMP, the Janeway, and Autism Society.

“I love it,” said Healey. “Every day is different, every day is an adventure, and everyday is so rewarding. Yes, I have to listen to some hard things, and help students, and even some staff, weave through some difficult, difficult problems in their life, and deal with hard things in their life, but at the end of the day, when you see them overcome that, and get through it, that’s what makes this job so worthwhile everyday.”

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