2013 Kansas Master Teacher
Building rapport with students is key to Tara Walrod’s success as a school counselor.
"In order to create a rapport with children, I must look at students as individuals, have all students actively participating and encourage students to be problem solvers, facilitate learning through real-world connections and empower students to become self-learners," Walrod explained.
According to parents, students and colleagues, Walrod is able to reach the nearly 500 students in her school.
One parent tells of a disastrous kindergarten year for her daughter at a private school. She and her husband looked at their neighborhood school for their daughter’s first-grade year and met with Walrod.
"Before the school year even started," she wrote, "Tara had our daughter come to the school and play games with her, tour the school, get comfortable, etc., so that when the first day came, she would feel totally at ease and 'safe.'"
Walrod’s kindness comes naturally, but she also works to teach that character trait to students. Sunrise Point Elementary opened in 2006, and each year Walrod has featured a kindness theme for the school. She also works with fifth-grade students, the oldest age in the school, to become leaders and role models for the younger students. Other projects include setting up small groups that include friendship development, girls’ relational aggression, grief and loss, food allergy and changing families.
"Every school has the 'glue' that connects all the staff and community together," wrote a teacher at Sunrise Point Elementary School. "Unfortunately our school has had to cope with the loss of the life of a student and several students have lost a parent. Through these most difficult times, she provided us all with her compassion and expertise to help not only our students and staff, but our entire school community."
Walrod earned bachelor’s degrees in education and mathematics and a master’s degree in school guidance and counseling from Kansas State University.