- Sharon Stiefel
I have had a long and winding road of a career. My BS degree is from University of Maryland in Early Childhood Education. My MA degree is from Hood College in Community Counseling. I have been certified as a teacher in Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia, over the years. I have been a RAMP recipient from the American School Counselors Association in 2009, was Teacher of the Year (as a counselor) at Park Ridge Elementary School in Stafford, VA in 2009, and was the inaugural Counselor of the Year for Stafford County Public Schools in 2012. I am a National Board Certified Counselor and a National Board Certified School Counselor.
My experiences have been varied as my husband was active duty military for 32 years and everywhere we moved I had a new role. I was primarily a “stay at home mom” for the majority of our moves but worked part time during the day while my four children were in school. My jobs included being a parenting educator, a substance abuse counselor (inpatient and outpatient), a teacher for preschool, first and third grades, and at the university level, a consultant doing mental health assessments of individuals and families involved in abuse, divorce, custody and foster care placement for Family Court and a Professional School Counselor in Virginia for the past 17 years.
I have found my role as school counselor to be the perfect fit as it combines my love of children, supporting their growth and development and my passion to help those on the “front lines” -- parents and teachers, enabling them to provide a positive environment for growth. My many experiences have helped me to view typical challenges of students in elementary school from various viewpoints- a parent, a teacher and a counselor. My understanding of the family court system and substance abuse challenges has prepared me to help young children through these family struggles.
In my role in the elementary school, I thoroughly enjoy using literature, analogies and vicarious examples to help children to examine feelings and patterns of behaviors. I have a huge collection of books that I use for individual, group and classroom work. Other counselors or social workers often ask me if I know a good book for this or that and usually I do.
There are times I cannot find what I am looking for … a situation for which I am unaware of a resource. I have come to create stories and workbooks that fit perfectly. I use them with my students and adapt as needed. Ideas for these books and stories come from the needs of the children in my school. I have created books for children in foster care, children who have never known one of their parents, children who have lost both parents and children that live with a relative.
Sometimes the idea for a story or for a group come from a particular group of children with whom I am working. A few years ago, the Good Egg Group was created this way. I was thinking about a tough group of boys who seemed to do a very effective job of diverting attention from their vulnerabilities by putting on a shell. One boy was the class clown, one a really antagonistic bully and one was very quiet. It was springtime and all around was the theme of eggs. I was flooded with egg analogies of putting on a shell, coming out of a shell, beings “slightly cracked” and Humpty Dumpty needing to be put back together again. The Good Egg Group was hatched and it was a great success.
I presented this group at the Virginia School Counselors conference and the many attendees at my session suggested I get the group plan published. Marco Products agreed and together we improved the graphics and developed an easy-to-use format. Click here to learn more about the Good Egg Group program.