Teacher of the Week: Stephanie Grussing, counselor, Unity Junior High, Tolono

By Chicago 4 Min Read

After growing up the daughter of a kindergarten teacher and an employee for the Illinois State Board of Education, Stephanie Grussing served multiple roles at Unity Junior High before settling into her dream job 13 years ago.

First, she was a resource teacher. Then, she started a Life Skills program, where she worked with students with significant disabilities. She moved to an intervention position before ultimately ending up in the role she’d always hoped for as the school’s counselor. Of course, she still holds many roles at the school.

“Mrs. Grussing’s title is school counselor, but she is so much more,” Principal Laura Fitzgerald said. “In addition to scheduling students into classes and helping students navigate the day-to-day challenges of junior high, Mrs. Grussing monthly holds counseling whole group lessons with students on a variety of topics from goal setting to student safety online. She is visible, accessible and here for students whenever they need her.”

I find my work important because … kids are faced with more and more challenges every day, and it’s so important they know they never have to go through those challenges alone. School counselors have the ability to provide connection, compassion, support, skills, and resources to overcome and rise above, so students can reach their full potential. A former educator, Rita Pierson, said it best: “Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

I became a counselor because … I’ve always desired to love and serve others, and this profession has given me the opportunity to do just that … to love kids, to love colleagues, to love families, and to love our community.

My favorite part about my job is … every day is different. Some days are really, really hard; some days are pure bliss. No matter what, every day is a fresh start. Everyone has a new opportunity to learn and grow and be better than the day before.

My most fulfilling moments on the job are when … kids learn from their mistakes, persevere, and make progress toward their goals.

Something else I’m passionate about is … my family and my community. I’ve been married to my husband, Chris, for 15 years, and we have three children: Hayden (12), Liam (10), and Ellie (8). We are passionate about raising them to be kind humans who love Jesus, pursue their passions, and fulfill their purpose in this world. We desire to contribute to our community in a way that promotes kindness and positivity in order for everyone to experience connection and a sense of belonging.

My favorite teacher and subject to study in school was … My second grade teacher at Neponset Grade School, Mrs. Johnson, comes to mind. It was such a long time ago, but I can recall both her high expectations for her students and also her genuine care for them. It was like a little family in her classroom; we all cared for one another.

If I weren’t a counselor, I would be … working somewhere that allows me to hold babies all day long!


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