2023 School Counselor of the Year: Meredith Lindsey Draughn
Meredith Lindsey Draughn, school counselor, B. Everett Jordan Elementary School in Graham, N.C., is the 2023 School Counselor of the Year. Draughnhas been a school counselor since 2014. B. Everett Jordan Elementary School is a Recognized ASCA Model Program school that serves 355 students in grades K–5. Read more.
What Makes Meredith Tick?
What words do you live by?
I firmly believe everybody is doing the best they can, and when you know better, you can do better. I think if you can start with that in mind, it’s a lot easier to empathize with people and believe they are coming from a place with good intentions, regardless of their will or skill to turn that intention into positive actions.
If you weren’t a school counselor, what would your career be?
I have always loved the shows “CSI” and “Criminal Minds,” and I even went to a CSI camp at a local community college as a kid. The puzzle of how someone’s brain works is truly fascinating to me, so I think I would work as a behavior analyst in the FBI or something exciting along those lines.
How do you practice self-care?
Although I am nowhere near an expert at self-care, I have improved my practice tremendously over the last two years. I do three things consistently that I actively miss when they don’t get done: I take a bubble bath almost nightly, which is very simple but feels super indulgent; I bought a milk frother so it feels like I am getting that cafe experience I adore every morning in my own kitchen; and I hold Wednesday nights sacred to rejuvenate and do things I love to make the end of the week feel less daunting. Of course there are long walks and hot tea and healthy journaling practices thrown in here and there, but those three things have become a staple in my life, and I know I am a better school counselor because of them.
What’s on your bucket list?
As clichéd as it sounds, traveling would have to be at the top of the list. I would love to see all 50 states and visit all seven continents. Even if I don’t complete that, I will sure have a great time trying.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
For someone who was raised in the South and is constantly preaching about cultivating peace and kindness in the world, I am an avid hockey fan, where hits on other people are celebrated and recorded in the statistics of the game and players can only “earn” a Gordie Howe hat trick if they get in a fight. I can’t explain it, all I can say is #GoCanes.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My grandmother has always said that when someone is upset or off-center, you should put them in wind or put them in water. The sensory and self-regulatory benefits of swinging, running, a car ride with the windows down, a hot bath or sitting by the ocean or river are unmatched. I think it serves to remind us that we are real forces of nature and that nature is our best regulator, as regardless of the events of the day, the sun will set and then rise again, like clockwork.
What’s your favorite book, and why?
It feels like this is equivalent to asking who my favorite child is. If it’s a story that feels like coming home, it would be the Harry Potter series, which I read while coming of age. However, my favorite standalone book would have to be “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The complexities Harper Lee allowed me to comprehend as a teenager and the line, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,” were incredibly life changing.
Besides school counseling and your family, what are you passionate about?
I love anything that creates community: TV shows that spur discussions with neighbors, sports teams that unite you with a complete stranger at a restaurant or live music shows that somehow always transform into a chorus concert of only slightly off-key voices. I’m most passionate about creating and being part of shared experiences that yield positive moments for all in the group. For example, over the last three years, I have been the committee chair for a local chapter of YoungLives, which is an outreach ministry for teen moms. Getting to serve and support mentors who are walking alongside teen moms in my community has been incredible because it allows me to take the concept of “It Takes a Village” and help put it into action.