Jodi Howard is known for her bubbly personality and welcoming smile. She is just the person you’d want to talk to after having a rough day.
“Jodi has such a kind heart,” said sophomore Taytum Anderson.
Howard is respected for her warmth, which makes perfect sense. Howard is a Dickinson County native and is one of the new members of the Solomon counseling staff, serving as the high school’s college and career advisor.
Howard grew up in Abilene but was away from Kansas when she moved to Nebraska for her husband's job. She recently came back home and took a job at Solomon High School.
“I think all the other jobs I had made me want to advise kids,” Howard said. “I was just wanting to do more for the kids. I felt like I was stuck and having to give the other ‘professionals’ the job, but I wanted to help and spend more time with kids too.”
Her good social skills and ability to connect with others began with her active high school involvement.
“I did cross country, basketball, dance, cheer, forensics, ensemble--which is performance choir, 4-H, and track for one year,” said Howard. As the college and career advisor she needed to be good at networking and her involvement with her high school gave her the skills she needed to be great at what she does.
“She is awesome,” said senior Joe Prescher. “She puts others first.”
Her path to counseling wasn’t a straight shot. After high school, Howard attended Fort Hays State University and received her bachelor's degree and then went to K-State for one year. She is continuing her education by taking online classes to complete her master’s degree and to gain the title of school counselor.
“I'm looking forward to finishing my online classes, and then for the first time being able to walk seniors through their next phase and making that plan to make that leap into the world,” she said.
When Howard is not helping teenagers plan for their futures, she also serves as the Solomon High School and Middle School cheerleading and dance team coach. These teams are made up of girls who love and respect her.
“She brings a light into the building that makes each day enjoyable,” said cheerleader Taytum Anderson. “I absolutely love her.”
Howard’s cheerleading experience is why she wanted to be a coach.
“I had a great coach who made us feel important and needed, and someone you could always turn to other than your friends,’’ said Mrs. Howard, eyes sparkling with faint nostalgia for her high school days. “Cheer becomes a family, so you want to keep your family happy. I'm still friends with everybody I cheered with in high school.”
Howard wants to foster that same kind of friendship and warm environment at Solomon, and she knows that squad has great potential.
“I think Solomon's cheerleaders love cheer, and love what they are doing,” she said. “You find out real quick if they don't because they won’t stay and it's always easy to coach a sport if all the athletes love what they are doing. I want to see all my girls get better and be leaders for everyone. Although cheer is secondary to school--you are a student before an athlete.”
Just as everyone else Howard wants a successful school year, and defines this when she is able, at the end of the school year, to “take a deep breath and say you did the best you could no matter what.”
Howard gives a lot to Solomon Schools, but her job does come with some perks that she finds quite rewarding.
“I get hugs from little people,'' she said with a little grin on her face.
Editing by Spencer Coup, Perry Steele, Taytum Anderson, and Alana Wood