Counselor is Buncombe County high school counselor of year

Barbara Hootman

Jennifer Abshire is focused on her Owen High School students’ academic and social needs five days a week nonstop. Dedication to her job is one attribute that made her Buncombe County’s High School Counselor of the Year for 2015-16.

The energetic, petite veteran counselor with more than a decade of experience would rather talk about students and co-counselors than herself.

“It isn’t about one counselor, regardless of the honor of being named Buncombe County High School Counselor of the Year,” she said. “We have so many interesting and unique things going on with the students that it is hard to just talk about me. It is very much a team effort, with much of the credit of how we perform going to our mentors, (retired counselors) Kitty Kelly, Christi Neal and Sharon Fender.

Abshire works with sophomore and junior level students with last names A-F. She also helps students connect with scholarships in the spring.

“In the fall I work with students on applications for college, and then attention is focused on securing scholarships in the spring,” she said. We have ‘College Talk’ where students meet in the computer lab on Wednesday and work on applications for college. They get help from counselors and lots of positive peer reinforcement. It is my job to help meet the students’ needs academically and socially.”

This is Abshire’s fourth year at Owen High. She worked as a counselor at Buncombe County Middle College and at TC Roberson High School prior to joining the team at Owen High School. She also was a high school teacher in Memphis, Tennessee for three years prior to moving to North Carolina in 2008.

She attended Mississippi State University for her undergraduate degree in secondary education, and for the master degree in school counseling she attended Western Carolina University.

“I love being part of the Black Mountain and Swannanoa communities,” Abshire said. “Working to secure scholarships for the students is the most rewarding part of my job, and I’m blown away by all the support Owen High students receive from the community. People really invest in these kids’ futures. I think it is a unique relationship that Owen High has with the local communities.

“The most challenging part of my job is meeting the ever-changing needs of the students, and helping them balance their academic and social needs with their career goals. Helping the students find balance and putting life into perspective is really important. They have to be reminded to take care of, and to make time for, themselves.”