Ms. Dejean's Compassion, Positive Quotes Earn Her Accolades
By Isela Larreinaga, Junior Writer
Ms. Dejean was given the "Cuddliest School Mama in Existence" Award by her students
Photo by Bacilio Bencosme
Photo by Bacilio Bencosme
Ms. Dejean is the counselor for The Academy of Media, Arts and Music who thrives and shows compassion in what she does. She has an impressive history that led her to where she is right now.
Ms. Dejean grew up in Queens and went to Springfield Gardens High School. As a teenager she was a very shy person, but she wasn't alone. Her older sister Chantal helped her throughout her high school experience for the better. Initially, Ms. Dejean had a passion for teaching. Ms Dejean taught for many years at different schools. She taught for eight years at Richmond Hill High School. She also taught in other boroughs such as Manhattan and the Bronx.
Besides teaching, Ms. Dejean was interested in counseling. She decided to switch over to counseling after many years in the teaching field. She took two years off work to get her license in the Counseling department. It was an abundant amount of work in those years, but she soon succeeded. At the graduation for her counseling, she received an award for dedication, which was only given to her and one other student.
Since her graduation from college, she has accomplished so much. In 2014, she received the Guidance Counselor Recognition Award. This award was only awarded to a few counselors per borough in New York City. She also received the President’s Award from the New York State School Counselor Association (NYSSCA). This award was given to her for her excellence in counseling. She was recognized for many other awards and she’s truly grateful for that.
"I have never met anyone with a bigger heart than Ms. Dejean," said Mr. Panepinto, Director of Media, Arts and Music. "She's my big sister and deserves every accolade she earns. Our students are so lucky to have her in their lives."
Another accomplishment that she was proud of was being a part of planning the Guidance Counselor Conference which is held every year. She had a lot of fun planning it because she loves organizing events. It takes her about 6 months to prepare for that one day.
Ms. Dejean loves her job. She’s happy that she became a guidance counselor. She’s especially grateful for Mr. Michalos. If it wasn't for him, she would not have been at Hillcrest this very moment. Mr. Michalos was brand new at the time Ms. Dejean was an intern at Hillcrest. He was given the authority to hire counselors. Mr. Michalos knew Ms Dejean for quite a time then and he knew she was an intern at Hillcrest, so he offered her a placement in Hillcrest for counseling. “I wouldn't switch schools, I love my co-workers and the students here.”
She began counseling when Hillcrest was still united as one large school with no Small Learning Communities. Over time Hillcrest split into different programs. Ms Dejean was slightly upset because she wouldn't be around her former colleagues. On the other hand, she was happy that the school was being split into several programs because now she could connect to her students easily and more deeply. The original founders of Humanities, Mr. Olechowski and Ms. Lauzon, would not agree to be Directors unless Ms. Dejean was their counselor.
She has helped out many students from Media, Arts and Music, but that wasn't the only program. Other students from other programs come into her office and grab a quote from her positive jar. Her positive jar consists of different quotes that can relate to the students. Ms. Dejean got the idea from a guidance counseling catalog and thought it was a great idea. Every day a bunch of students come into her office to take one, and the students claim that the quote they picked actually really related to them and helped them through their day. Ms Dejean also puts quotes in the jar that help students think about their present and future. In addition, she accepts quotes from students that can be put into the jar. One quote she used from a student was “When you have inner beauty you don't need the makeup kill.” The positive jar has helped so many students throughout the years.
Throughout the many years in the Department of Education, Ms. Dejean has made many friends. Last year Ms Dejean turned 50 years of age. She didn't plan for a party; however, her best friends decided to organize the party for her at her favorite Italian restaurant. At her part, there were around 30 people gathered around. Her co-workers from former schools came, co-workers from Hillcrest came, family, and friends from her childhood. At the party, Ms Dejean’s best friends decided to give the guests a little piece of paper and write something good about her. Afterwards, one by one, people read what they wrote about to Ms.Dejean. Ms. Dejean described the party as the best time of her life.
Ms. Dejean has made many new friends over the course of time. Her personality is one the big reasons that she appealed to many people. She impacted an abundance of adults and children. She is loved by many and continues to appeal to new people she encounters in her life.
"She's like our school mama. She is always there when you need her and you can always count on her to listen and help you. Plus, she makes the best brownies," said Media, Arts and Music senior Sarah Khimjee. "We love her!"
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