Elizabeth Duberstein Wins A 2013 Blackboard Award For Teachers

What are some of the key joys or challenges of being a guidance counselor?

Every day, a sixth grader comes into my room to say “good morning.” When he first started at our school, he was nervous and spent most days crying and leaving school early. It brings me great joy to know that I am a welcome face to this student (and to all the students) and that I have helped him feel comfortable in school.

It’s challenging when I want to assist [students] with their difficulties and there are obstacles that are beyond their control. My most important job is to teach them to self-motivate and strive to improve their situation.

Tell us about any special projects or initiatives you are most proud of this year. 

Hurricane Sandy devastated my school. While we were displaced for an entire month, I was informed of two Brooklyn teachers who wanted to donate presents to our students. I compiled a list of 200 students who were displaced from their homes, and they received presents during the holiday season. After we returned to our school, I formed a hurricane relief team. We were able to match our students with organizations that wanted to help their families. Currently, this team is in the process of giving thousands of dollars in gift cards to needy families.

Over the course of your career, what do you consider some of your greatest accomplishments to date? 

I was able to assist numerous families in getting back on their feet and be part of a welcoming school environment when we finally returned to our building post-Sandy.

I currently sit on the school leadership team and work closely with the PTA. I organized the morale team to enhance student involvement in school.

What drives you and keeps you motivated to continue your hard work as a guidance counselor on a daily basis?

When I first became a guidance counselor, my mom—who is a retired guidance counselor—gave me the best advice I could have ever received. She told me that every day when I walk into my school, I should treat my students as if they were my own. This advice keeps me motivated because every student, no matter how upset they are or how mad they get, deserves to be treated with empathy and compassion.

For more information about the Blackboard Awards, visit blackboardawards.com