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GRHS Educator of the Year: Dan Brodhead

The guidance counselor talks about how to help kids stressed sick over college applications, who inspired him when he attended school and what drew him to the guidance office.

Six educators in the Glen Rock Public Schools system can call themselves the creme de la creme, having been selected by colleagues as the top educators for 2011-2012 at their respective schools.

The list this year is quite diverse – you'll find resource room teachers, guidance counselors, science teachers, art teachers and classroom teachers.

The six recipients were kind enough to answer a few questions Patch had about their role in shaping kids' futures.

Up first is Dan Broadhead, a 17-year veteran of the Glen Rock schools and guidance counselor at . Check out what he has to say!

Why did you gravitate toward teaching? Did you always know you wanted to be an educator?

I gravitated toward teaching mainly for two reasons – I wanted the opportunity to coach and teaching was the only way to coach HS athletes back in the 70s and because I felt a connection to HS age students and wanted to make a difference in their lives.

What's the best part about your job?

The best part about being a guidance counselor is the time I spend with students. I came to the district 17 years ago as the Athletic Director/Sup. of Health and Physical Education. It was a fine position but I was not able to spend time with students as often as I would have liked. So, I moved over to the guidance dept. in 2002 with the hope of having more direct contact with students. It was the best move of my career!

What are the greatest challenges you find? How do you solve them?

The greatest challenge I face with my students is the level of competitiveness students face during the college application process and the anxiety that seems to accompany this level of competitiveness.

I do all I can to let students know that going through the college application and admission process is not a life and death situation, trying to get them to understand that there are always options available to them and it is the resourceful person that is able to get what they want in life not necessarily the most gifted or talented person.

What's the most memorable thing that's happened in your office? 

I have been so fortunate to have witnessed students who are struggling work through their issues and after so much determination finally achieve their goals – be it just earning a certain grade in a course, graduating from high school or earning acceptance to the college of their choice.

Though I can say that I have been fortunate to have witnessed things like this on numerous occasions, I never take something so special for granted and feel lucky to be a part of any success my students may have. 

Do you have a particular "style" in guidance?

I guess that most students (and their parents) might say that I am pretty laid back, positive and supportive but that I usually will tell it like it is. Though sometimes reality can be a bitter pill to swallow, most people seem to appreciate an honest approach to questions they have.

Though everyone has goals and wishes for what they want and would like to do, that is not always possible. However, I try very hard to reassure students that there are many ways to find success and if one door closes you need to find a way to open another. 

What teacher inspired you as a student? 

The person who inspired me to follow a career in education is a US history teacher I had in my junior year of high school (I went to Garfield High School). His name is Jim Saganiac. He also coached me in football. I loved the fact that he was so passionate about his subject and he was able to convey that passion to his students.

You could tell he loved what he did and loved his students. Great sense of humor and sometimes he used unusual methods to get results but always had his students best interests at heart.  And, he was an excellent example of a coach who thought that teaching was the most important part of his day. I have never forgotten that.

 Do you have any advice for parents or students?

The best advice I can give students and parents that I have learned through some tough lessons in my life is that it is wonderful to have goals and strive for success. Sometimes in the pursuit of success some things are sacrificed.

All too often people put finding their happiness on the back burner. It is the person who is truly happy who will be most successful. 

Find your happiness and everything else will fall into place.

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