Goddard named state’s top guidance counselor

Amanda Seale

Mrs. Leigh Goddard is a well-known face at Bearden, and now she is being recognized by more than the faculty and students inside the school walls. Mrs. Goddard is in her third year as a Bearden High Guidance Counselor and is expecting her first child – a boy – in mid-February; she has also recently been honored with the Guidance Counselor of the Year award for the state of Tennessee. Who does she attribute her success to? Her fellow guidance counselors. “We are a team, we are close friends, and daily we are encouraged and inspired by one another to do our job better and better,” Mrs. Goddard said. When BHS principal Dr. John Bartlett announced the award on Nov. 21, her four colleagues in the guidance department were by her side. “We are thrilled for Mrs. Goddard,” counselor Mrs. Megan Cantrell said. “She is so deserving of this honor and recognition.” A native of Sweetwater, Mrs. Goddard works solely with the freshmen at Bearden. She visits freshmen classrooms and talks to them about the Focused Plan of Study, a map or guide for the four years of high school. “It allows students to take the initiative and holds them accountable for planning out four years of high school while working towards the goal of graduating at the end of [their] senior year of high school,” Mrs. Goddard said. This also gives Mrs. Goddard an opportunity to meet and talk to some of the students. “She spent a lot of individual time with each of us, asking everyone what our plans for college were and sounding genuinely interested, even going as far to asking what we wanted to major in,” freshman Marianne Dodson said. “She was really warm and funny and was really eager to answer all of our questions about the classes.” The visits to different classes are beneficial for Mrs. Goddard, as not all students get a chance to come by her office. “I love when a student will come by just to tell me about something good going on, share a celebration, or come back as a sophomore just to update me on their life,” Mrs. Goddard said. Mrs. Goddard strives to make students feel comfortable coming to talk to her. “I have an open door policy,” Mrs. Goddard said. “I never want a student to assume that they need an agenda or certain question in order to be ’allowed’ to come by the Guidance office to see any of us counselors.” This is helpful for any student who needs a schedule change, has a problem, or just wants to talk. “She makes each student a priority, and has a real gift of encouraging our students to succeed,” Mrs. Cantrell said. Mrs. Goddard will be temporarily leaving at the beginning of February on maternity leave. Though her absence will be felt through the halls of Bearden High School, Mrs. Goddard’s priority will be her new born son, named Henley James Goddard after her father. “I am planning to take maternity leave for the remainder of this school year so that I can stay home with Henley and be a full-time mommy for the first few months of his life,” Mrs. Goddard said, “but I will be back at Bearden next year to welcome our new class of ninth graders.” She will surely be missed by faculty and students alike, but the impact she has made on students will surely remain throughout her temporary absence.