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Behind The Tiara: Queen Bennett’s Legacy at BISD

Article by: Sara Musgrove


“Life is hard, and our students encounter so much,” said Kimber Bennett, school counselor at Woodland Heights Elementary and winner of the Rhosine Fleming Elementary Counselor of the Year. “Students who develop the skills for communication, boundaries, advocacy, and respect have the world in front of them.”


Bennett graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a guidance associate minor. She began working at Brownwood ISD in 1985, teaching fourth grade at South Elementary, then moved to Waco, and was hired as a co-op counselor for Hubbard ISD, Malone ISD, and Mount Calm ISD. That year, “The Texas Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs came out as a draft,” Bennett said. “Those districts allowed me to start implementing the model in their districts. Principal Raymond Weldon supported my work with implementing the counseling model.” The comprehensive school counseling program focuses on the needs of students to ensure that they can make the most of their educational experience.


After moving back to Brownwood, Bennett interviewed with Brownwood ISD for a counseling position and was hired to work at South Elementary and East Elementary. “’Work with the kids.’ That was the theme,” Bennett said. “Classroom Guidance, Individual Planning, Responsive Services, and System Support was our focus. Dr. Don Martin, Dr. Sue Jones, Jeana Moss, and Dr. Reece Blinco supported additional training for the elementary counselors, so we were consistent across the district. My other principals, Danny Cox, Betty Beyers, Bob Turner, and Jenny Swanzy provided support and encouragement to ‘work with the kids.’”


For over thirty-four consecutive years at BISD, Bennett has continued to work with students around the district in many ways. “She has assisted teachers and administration in developing effective and successful behavior improvement plans for several of our … children who have experienced failure," wrote Jenny Swanzy, former principal of Woodland Heights and current Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction, in her recommendation letter for Bennett’s nomination for the Counselor of the Year award. “There is not much she will not do for kids, families, colleagues, friends, those in need, and her fellow man in general. She manages to find sound practices that work and that teachers can implement effectively in real classrooms full of real kids. Bennett has addressed social-emotional learning in children successfully and effectively, long before it became a trend.”


BISD Superintendent Dr. Joe Young, BISD Deputy Superintendent Liesa Land, Woodland Heights Elementary Principal Jeanette Lancaster, Jenny Swanzy, and BISD Mental Health Coordinator Danielle Howard all nominated Kimber Bennett for the 2022 Rhosine Fleming Elementary Counselor of the Year for the Texas School Counselor Association. “’Queen Bennett’ as the students affectionately call her, has served as a leader and a role model for the schools around her, and is intentional in designing the program according to the model put forth by the state,” Howard said. “Recently, she has served as site supervisor for three of our counselors, now fully licensed, and has assisted them in learning growth, and structuring the program. I have watched her complete many a guidance lesson, and teach many a student and counselor, including myself.  She has put decades of intentional hard work and focus into not only making a positive impact on her own students, but on the development of School Counseling as a whole. The blessing of learning from her is a gift that cannot be mistaken. As one of the many who have the privilege, we are grateful.”


“I am humbled, stunned, and speechless,” Bennett said of winning the Counselor of the Year Award. “Those people who know me, know that ‘speechless’ is not a normal characteristic of mine. Every counselor I have worked alongside has been a teacher to me. The paraprofessionals, support staff, cafeteria staff, and custodians are eyes/boots on the ground and see things that concern them and let me know so I can follow up. The office staff works hard to ensure I have the supplies and materials I need and handle extra communications and other needs that might arise. The nurses work closely with the counselors so that student needs are met, and no one goes unattended. My family, Jay, Delaney, and Jesse, have always been a tremendous support. There are thousands of students and parents who have been loving, caring, and gracious to share their lives with me so as a team we can provide the best care. So, my thoughts on winning this award…it was done as a team, a dream team and I am proud to be a part of this team.”


Deputy Superintendent Liesa Land said, “She has proven a fierce advocate for children. Initially, she will grab your attention with her crown of wild red locks, but as you get to know her you find the most caring, thoughtful, and respected counselor one could ever meet, with an unwavering devotion to the children she serves.”


Bennett’s personal philosophies influence her daily interactions with the students. “I love working with teachers, parents, and students partnering together to be able to see kids learn and grow into the best possible they can be in their lives,” Bennett said. “The kids are amazing, extremely insightful, and willing to learn, and that provides unending motivation in my career. I love seeing the light go on in their lives when students realize and recognize their own powers and abilities to think, and problem-solve in all areas of their lives.”


Bennett began her college days ready to learn the ins and outs of the construction engineering industry but found a different kind of constructive career instead. “God and I got into a three-year battle when He said, ‘Be a teacher,” Bennett said. “Long story short, He won. I didn’t become a Cost and Scheduling Engineer. But I did get a hard hat this year to wear with Woodland’s theme of ‘Building Our Futures’ and it doesn’t get any better than that!”


Collage with photos of Bennett and admin at awards banquet