Long Neck counselor loves students, community service

Date Published: 
May 30, 2014

Cathy Besden-Showell has more than 700 students at Long Neck Elementary School, but she aims to make a difference where it’s really needed.

“You have the opportunity to impact the students’ lives. I’m sure you don’t impact them all, but … some, you do make a difference,” she said.

Her efforts were rewarded with the 2014 Delaware Elementary School Counselor of the Year award. Sponsored by the Delaware School Counselor Association, the prize recognizes her personal dedication and service to the profession of school counseling.

“Cathy is a master of all the ingredients of successful teaching and counseling, especially the ability to inspire,” stated Long Neck Principal David Hudson. “Cathy’s success comes from her love and respect for her students. She has an outstanding rapport with people of all ages, especially the at-risk children she works with at Long Neck Elementary School.”

“If you want to be a school counselor, you have to love kids and want to help them deal with their problems and so forth,” Showell said.

She listens “to what the kids have to say and how they feel, reflecting back and talking to them with whatever they want to talk about.”

When Showell walks into a classroom, she said, she loves the energy and tries to use it as much as possible. “I like to do a lot of interactive things with them, because there’s so much [academic work]. They work so hard all day,” she said.

So they might sing songs or roleplay to learn about self-esteem, conflict resolution and more. With fifth-graders, she discusses middle school and careers, preparing them for the next step.

“Mrs. Showell truly has a special talent for working with the children who need more guidance and support,” Hudson said. “Cathy is an exceptional teacher, friend and person, who has received recognition not only for her occupational and academic achievements, but also for her service to the community.”

Whether she’s hosting a school-wide assembly on bullying prevention or counseling children one-on-one, Showell tries to reach the most children possible.

Trying to prevent tardiness, Showell began a program to encourage students to arrive on time. Every morning they arrived on time, children got a ticket that was entered into a daily prize drawing. With the help of fifth-graders, she read the winning names every day. For three months, students could win anything from “Excellent Attendance” pencils to gift certificates, courtesy of local businesses.

Now in her third year at Long Neck, Showell has been a counselor for the Indian River School District for the past 23 years. She has served at North Georgetown Elementary School, Sussex Central Middle School and East Millsboro Elementary School.

She also worked in the Laurel School District for four years and as a teacher’s aide before that.

It’s tough to manage over 700 students, but overall, Showell said, “I love it. I love the staff. I love the students.” She also enjoys the commute.

This is the first time Showell has actually worked in her own community, having lived in Long Neck but driven elsewhere to work for more than 36 years. “It’s really nice to be able to get to know the kids” in her own town, she said.

“It kind of shakes things up. I think change every once in a while is a good thing,” said Showell, “and it’s always been a positive thing for me. I’ve enjoyed [it].”

Showell also earned the 2002 Middle School Counselor of the Year award, making this year’s honor a real cap on her career.

“You don’t need the awards for anything in particular,” she said, but it’s nice to be recognized.