For Brooke Hintze, every day is a blank canvas—a new chance to help students in the Evansville School District.
As a counselor at Evansville High School, Hintze helps a wide variety of students for a vast array of reasons.
“If I had to describe it in one word, it would be unpredictable,” Hintze said.
Sometimes her conversations with students are positive and career-based. Other times, they are focused on mental health and overcoming suffering to achieve happiness.
For her innovative approach to helping students tackle their problems, Hintze was one of three middle and high school counselors in the state to earn recognition from the College Board's Counselor Recognition Program.
“I was surprised and humbled not only because I take great pride in what I do, but there are so many amazing student services persons out there. It was just very humbling to receive the acknowledgement and some appreciation for what we do every day,” she said.
Hintze has worked as a counselor at Evansville High School for the last two years. Her boss, Principal Jason Knott, said Hintze is “more than deserving” of the honor.
“There are many different things that contribute to her being so effective at what she does, but if I had to pick one thing, it’s that she’s so student and family driven,” Knott said. “Everything she does is focused on the students, and she's able to see things in a way where she analyzes situations and tries to turn things around to always focus it back on the students.”
Hintze’s path to working as a school counselor started in her youth.
When she was in elementary school, Hintze said a “phenomenal” school counselor helped her cope with the death of her grandmother. Then when Hintze was struggling with the transition to middle school, a counselor again helped her through the difficult time.
She participated in an internship with school counselors while in college. It didn’t take long before Hintze knew she had found her calling.
“I knew that I always wanted to work with kids and wanted to help people, but I just wasn’t sure that teaching was the capacity that I wanted to do that in," she said. "I really wished to have more one-on-one personal relationships with kids.”
Hintze said counseling has changed over the last decade as professionals focus more on mental health and helping students navigate social media and high-pressure extracurricular activities. She hopes to coach students in helping themselves, too.
“It’s about being able to build relationships with the kids, the families, a community and staff. Relationships are key," she said. "If people trust you and they feel cared for, you can do great things together.”
Knott said Hintze excels at caring for people. Sometimes her job requires a triage of situations and students, and she handles it with care, the principal said.
“She has a very high emotional IQ. She meets people where they are at and just knows what people need when they need it. It’s a special skill,” Knott said.
“No matter what I try to put into words, it couldn’t put into justice all of the great things she brings to this school," he said. "She cares, and it makes a big difference in this community.”