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Counselor Julie Bennight Spends Five Decades Supporting Students, Staff and Families in FBISD

(FORT BEND ISD)– The role of counselor for Armstrong Elementary’s Julie Bennight is just one of the many hats she has proudly worn in her five-decade career in Fort Bend ISD.

Bennight has served the district as a speech pathologist, principal, assistant principal, speech pathologist, and presently, as a counselor.

Photo courtesy of Fort Bend ISD

“The children come to me when they have problems with a friend or if they’re battling the pressure to perform ‘perfectly’ like an older sibling,” Bennight said. “They also come just to talk.”

Bennight meets with classes for character development sessions. She also meets with students in small groups and one-on-one.

“A lot of our parents aren’t working one job, they’re working two or three,” she said. “Their children sometimes don’t have anybody to care for them when they get home and may go home to an empty place until mom or dad or their big sister or big brother gets home.”

Focusing on students’ mental health is not new for Bennight; it’s something she prioritized early in her career.

“The kids show you they need you,” she said. “They readily reach out once they know I’m concerned.”

Bennight always wanted to be an educator and remembers playing school with her stuffed animals when she was a child. She moved with her husband from Orangefield, a small town near Beaumont close to the Texas-Louisiana border, and she joined Fort Bend ISD as a speech pathologist in the 1970s. She spent 34 years in the district before retiring.

After losing her husband, Bennight decided to come out of retirement, and she rejoined the district as a substitute administrator. With her diverse experience, she was temporarily placed on almost a dozen campuses to support school staff and to ensure that operations continued smoothly. She moved to Armstrong when the counselor position became available and has made it her second home.

In addition to her connection with students, Bennight has become an invaluable peer advisor to staff at Armstrong because of her wealth of experience and easy-to-approach manner. With her experience as a school principal, she steps in when her administrators need a hand.

“If they ask for my advice, which they do, I provide it,” she said. “I say, ‘I have the old school advice.’ I try to be supportive.”

Bennight is one of six lead elementary counselors. In that role, she supports nine other elementary counselors in the district and serves as a liaison for them to district administrators. She also works with her campus’ parent educator to support parents and families, serves on several campus committees and works morning duty.

Through it all, Bennight reflects on the value of counselors and how -during her time as an administrator- she saw how hard her counselors would work for students, how busy they were, often working alone. Now that she is back in the role again, she has a deeper understanding of how vital and unique the position is in helping students grow and succeed.

“I still feel like it’s the best job in the building,” she said.


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