Kerry Nordstrom attended the national school counselor award ceremony at the White House. (Courtesy of Nordstrom.)

Kerry Nordstrom attended the national school counselor award ceremony at the White House. (Courtesy of Nordstrom.)

Wrangell middle and high school counselor Kerry Nordstrom was in Washington D.C. Jan. 6 to attend what was Michelle Obama’s last speech as First Lady. Nordstrom attended the event as Alaska’s top school counselor for the 2015-2016 school year.  Obama awarded a Michigan woman as the national school counselor of the year, which is given through her Reach Higher program.  The initiative aims to get more students into higher education programs.

Nordstrom stood just a few feet from Obama as she spoke about her own journey to two Ivy League colleges and the value of higher education.


“It was really amazing, but as we were getting closer to the end, you could tell she was starting to tear up and you could hear the hitching in her voice and everything,” Said Nordstrom “At the very end, she turned and was thanking everybody and she hugged the stuffing out of one of the counselors.”

Nordstrom, who began working for the district this fall, spent her last four years in Scammon Bay on the Berring Sea. The Alaska School Counselor Association crowned Nordstrom as the state’s top school aid while there.

“That was very amazing. And when I can to Wrangell, I’ve been highly impressed with the students we have here,” Nordstrom noted. “They have some amazing goals, going onto Ivy League colleges, going onto trade schools. We’ve got some students going down to Washington who were going to work with marine welding.”

That was Nordstrom’s first counselor position. She worked in sales for about 15 years before returning to school to obtain her bachelor’s degree to work in human resources. She added that she hadn’t thought about going into the education field.

“So when I was doing my thesis, I did it on small town school counselors and just fell in love with the job and never looked back,” Nordstrom explained.

Nordstrom noted she hopes the incoming Trump administration continues the tradition of the White House honoring America’s school counselors and teachers.

“You work with a student and you help them go down a path whether it’s teachers, counselors or anything. You work and you give them a goal and they go for it. That’s what it is. That’s what we want for America’s children,” she said.

As for attending Obama’s last speech, Nordstrom still seemed to be excited about the experience and her message.

“I thought it was an amazing speech. It was just amazing. Even though it was her last one, she has the passion and the quality behind it I guess I would say,” said Nordstrom.

Obama has said she will continue her work pushing students to move onto higher education.