Jennifer Watkins Wins Regional Award For Her Work as a Bryant Counselor

Bryant counselor Jennifer Watkins shares about her Arkansas School Counselors Association Award and her experience as a counselor.


Sydney Maddox

Jennifer Watkins assists junior Colin Jones to plan his schedule during a visit to his history class.

Catherine Spicer, Staff Writer

Jennifer Watkins, a counselor at Bryant, will receive the Arkansas School Counselor’s Association Southwest Counselor of the Year Award this summer.

Watkins was nominated for the award by other Bryant School District counselors in December, and then the winner was voted on by counselors in the region via email. The regional winners went on to be nominated for state counselor of the year. 

Brenda Rodgers, a Bryant High School counselor and colleague of Watkins’ previously received the award in 2018 and helped Watkins get nominated.

“She has a very caring attitude towards students and she has been instrumental in making some new things here at the school,” Rodgers said. “She just has a loving heart. She cares about kids.”

Watkins was honored that she received the award, and it means a great deal to her.

“[Receiving the award] makes me feel like my goal in life, to reach and touch and everything, is being seen,” Watkins said. 

According to Watkins, being nominated for the award by her colleagues made it more meaningful. 

“They see me day in and day out and they know the effort and hard work that it takes to be a good counselor,” Watkins said.

Watkins originally got her degree in administration and worked as an admissions counselor at Williams Baptist College and later an elementary school teacher in Marion, Arkansas. Watkins was encouraged by a colleague to pursue counseling.

“The custodian actually stopped me one day, and he knew that I was getting my master’s degree. He asked if I was getting it in counseling. He said ‘I’ve seen you talk to students and I think that you do really, really well, and talking to them. I think that you’d be a really good counselor,’” Watkins said. “I guess, because of that nudge, and that encouragement, I thought that counseling would be something cool that I could do.”

After deciding to become a counselor, Watkins settled on working at a high school because of the students.

“I like building relationships with older students. I like seeing the fruits of their labors being fulfilled at graduation, but also, I like seeing them blossom into the people that they’re meant to be,” Watkins said. “I feel like one of my quote unquote purposes in life is to make people feel special when they’re with me and to make them feel seen and to make them feel heard.”

According to Watkins, she continues counseling because she loves helping students and believes it is possibly a gift. 

“I want to continue doing that. I want to help students. I want to be able to be that person that helps them whenever they’re at their lowest of lows but gets to celebrate with them with their highest of highs,” Watkins said. “I feel like as a counselor, I get to do that.”