Mr. Shervington Named Pennsylvania School Counselor of the Year
Southern York County School District
P.O. Box 128, Glen Rock, Pennsylvania 17327-0128
Contact: Artemas Mott, Public Information Specialist
Phone: (717) 235-4811, Ext. 7231
Date: December 15, 2021
For Immediate Release
Susquehannock High School Counselor Mr. Matthew Shervington Named Pennsylvania School Counselor of the Year by the Pennsylvania School Counselor Association.
Mr. Matthew Shervington was recently named Pennsylvania school counselor of the year. We had some time to catch up with Mr. Shervington in the middle of a busy school day and asked him about the award and his thoughts on working as a high school counselor.
How does it feel to be named the PA School Counselor of the Year?
Coming out of the last school year with the special dynamics that transpired with COVID and the makeup of the hybrid schedule, it feels a little extra special to receive this award during what seemed like the craziest year of education since I’ve been involved that I can remember.
What influenced you to be a school counselor?
I’ve known I wanted to work in human services and the field of psychology since I was 8 when I was able to help my mom stop smoking cigarettes. That made a huge difference in my life personally, and her life. Specifically focusing on school counseling happened in high school when I went to what was at the time the largest high school in Pennsylvania where each counselor had 400-500 students on their caseload so there was no way for them to really get to know their students. It was easy to feel like a number and I didn’t want that to happen to students in the future. I felt lost like a number so I thought, “I want to do that job so other students don’t feel that feeling in the future.”
Why is a counseling program so important to the success of the students?
I think you have to focus on the three different domains here. Counselors help out with students academically, counselors help out with students with their social emotional development, and counselors help out with students in terms of planning for their post secondary dynamics.
When we talk about academics, we are an intervention for students who are struggling with their academics. If a student is not achieving to the level we know they are capable of, we are able to work with them on study skills and habits and get them back on track. We consult with teachers and staff all the time to find out what’s happening with students. Maybe the student just needs to know someone has their back and will help them get back on the right path. We also connect them with the right resources like our tutoring or writing center.
From the personal-social realm, if students aren’t feeling that their needs are being met, they aren’t going to succeed academically. If a student has something going on at home or something is bothering them at school, that’s going to be what is most on their mind. If you are worried about your basic needs, you aren’t worried about your academics. School counselors are the individuals who are trained to address those needs within the context of a school setting. We are trained mental health professionals who are trained to work with students to address those needs. We also make referrals out to community based organizations if students need continued help from someone not in the school system. We work with students on their development because being a teenager and adolescent is a difficult time to go through and we help students navigate those perils of transitioning into adulthood.
When speaking about counselors, people tend to think of the old “guidance counselors” who helped students prepare for post secondary plans. We still help students prepare for the college application process but beyond that we are also focusing on the career realm, getting students involved in pre-apprenticeship programs to go into trades after high school, having them look into cadet programs for law enforcement, and having students take the ASVAB in high school so they are prepared if they choose to enter the armed services. We can lead them to post secondary choices that are available to them after high school through classes in the school but also present them with practical applications by partnering with the York County Alliance for Learning (YCAL) or local colleges or businesses.
What is your favorite thing about working with high school students?
I enjoy watching them grow from essentially children who are coming into high school sometimes scared, nervous, or concerned and then make that transition to a young adult, or an adult, ready to transition into the real world or college. Being a teenager is not easy. A lot of times as adults we forget the things 14-18 year olds are going through are huge to them. We help them navigate what many people would call one of the toughest times in someone’s life span. We help them go from a young person to an adult who has many of the skills to start the task of tackling the world.
What is one thing you wish you could get students to see about themselves?
Not necessarily about themselves, but I wish students could see that they have resources here among the entirety of staff and faculty. It doesn’t have to be a counselor, it doesn't have to be a teacher, it doesn't have to be an administrator, but there is always at least one adult in every building that a kid can and should make a strong connection with who will help guide them and work through things. That person is going to work with counselors, teachers, administrators, and social workers, to help that student.
Is there anything else you would like to add? I encourage families to know who their child’s school counselor is and the services that are provided to them. Ensuring there are enough counselors to help our students is not only going to support our students, but it will support our families, it will support our teachers, our administrators, in so many ways which help everyone in the long run.
Congratulations to Mr. Shervington for this well deserved award!