by Alexandra McCray
When Kendra Hutcherson starts her day at Lake Forest Elementary School, she never knows where it will take her. A simpler one for the 34-year-old school counselor may include student one-on-one sessions that focus on social and emotional coping skills, while a harder day may involve interventions with pupils experiencing distress. “A lot of the work I do is reactive. You can’t plan when a crisis happens,” she says.
Kendra’s commitment to the children pushes her to and ways to support them beyond her daily duties. She’s rallied the community to aid families after apartment res, made sure those without food who are waiting on assistance from an organization are fed, collaborated with nonprofits, and taken part in raising $35,000 in 2020 for the school’s Lion Pride fund, which helped parents cover rent and utility bills after job losses due to COVID-19.
As the health crisis redefined the school experience, Kendra adapted. She encouraged students to employ yoga and calm breathing as relaxation techniques by sharing a video of her reading a mindfulness book. Additionally, she used her 20-pound Chihuahua-pug mix, Bella, as an icebreaker on Microsoft Teams. Once in-person learning resumed, she spent lunchtime outdoors reconnecting with children she hadn’t seen in almost six months. Her never-ending dedication even inspired the principal to nominate her for the “680 The Fan” T-Mobile Frontline Fridays award, which Kendra won in December 2020.
Though working with students during this time has presented challenges, she remains focused on her goal. “As counselors, we can’t undo the trauma our students have gone through, but we can create an accepting culture, show kindness and love, and let them know they at least have one person in the building that cares about them,” she says.
Kendra also strives to uplift the school’s teachers as much as possible. Her most recent efforts include her “Room Service” program, through which she delivers small snacks and encouraging notes to instructors. Her goal is to show gratitude and remind them of the importance of their own self-care. She notes, “This small gesture lets them know that they are appreciated and helps bring a smile to their face — even if it’s hidden by a mask.”
When it comes to her own self-care, Kendra enjoys walks and indulging in at-home facials. “If anyone wants to get me off topic, talk to me about skincare products,” she jokes. Around Sandy Springs, you’ll find her dropping off and picking up her 5-year-old son, Leo, at The Legacy Centre Preschool, unwinding as a family of three with her husband, Rabon, at City Springs, or visiting Luxe Nail Bar for some pampering.