Granton Counselor Schmitz
Named Herb Kohl Teacher Fellow
By Ryan Spoehr
Granton School counselor and Neillsville resident Shelly Schmitz has been named
one of the Herb Kohl Teacher Fellows for 2021.
The announcement was made publicly by the Herb Kohn Foundation last Wednesday.
She found out via email the same day. She had been working with students and a
representative from Mid-State Technical College. When glancing at her computer
in between student meetings, her email was open, and the notification had
arrived in her inbox.
“I was pretty shocked and seen in the last couple of days just realizing how
many educators there are across the state of Wisconsin, and to be one of 100
that were chosen is pretty humbling to me. I had tears in my eyes; I couldn’t
even open my email. I could see the first few words of it and I knew,” Schmitz
said. “I’m not one that likes to be in the spotlight or to have people giving me
that sort of attention, so it is pretty humbling.”
This is her fourth year as the school counselor in Granton. Prior to that she
taught different grades at the elementary level in Neillsville, Spencer and
In order to be recognized in the Herb Kohl Teacher Fellowship Program, an
educator has to be nominated by a student, parent or other educator. Schmitz was
nominated by Julie Kolarik, the principal at Woodside Elementary in Wisconsin
Rapids. Kolarik was a principal in Granton and worked with Schmitz for one year.
“We haven’t worked together in two-and-a-half years, and it was very unexpected
to even get the nomination, but then to be selected is pretty amazing – pretty
special,” Schmitz said.
The selection process included having to fill out an application.
“It was hard for me to even fill out the application because I’m there to do my
job and hope I do my job well. Again, I’m not the type of person who needs
recognition to do my job well,” Schmitz said. “The students here have a really
special place in my heart and that’s why I do what I do.”
In the application, Schmitz had to include all of her education experience,
service and civic- and citizenship based activities. She also had to respond to
essay questions on various topics, including opinions and philosophies regarding
education, how to increase student success and how to include families in their
In her responses, she was able to detail her passions for creating connections
and advocating for students’ mental health.
“There’s more I would like to do with students. As busy as my job is, I would
like to have some sort of afterschool program to help our students and families
with building relationships and connections with the community,” Schmitz said.
“And then mental health is a huge piece of my work, obviously. I would like to
do more education with our students on mental health and how to respond to that
in a peer-to-peer form. Then, also working with parents to better help them
navigate education and support their students in their education, their mental
health and whatever other parent education might be helpful to our families.”
She was humbled just by looking at the application and the essay questions.
“I think when I saw these questions, my initial response was, ‘There’s no way
I’m deserving of this,’” she said.
Teacher Fellows also need three letters of recommendation. Granton School Board
member Cheryl Steinbach, health care coordinator and full-time sub Courtney
Schoessow, and former student Casey Bravener wrote letters for Schmitz.
“It is [a good feeling], especially from my former student. She’s a college
student right now and looking to apply to graduate school soon. For her to be
willing to write that and do that for me, and take some time was pretty neat,”
Steinbach said Schmitz is “real deserving” of the recognition.
“I was real excited to hear she got it. She has been a great asset to our school
district,” Steinbach said.
Steinbach said Schmitz will go “above and beyond” for students.
“She will advocate for them and do anything possible to make sure they get the
best possible education they can,” Steinbach said. “She spends extra time
working with them and she’s very positive, and kids can have bad days, but she
has a way to make them feel comfortable and really make them smile.”
The Herb Kohl Educational Foundation is giving out 317 awards total this year,
including awards in the amount of $6,000 to 101 teachers, 16 principals and
their schools. There will be $10,000 scholarships given to 200 graduating high
Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
March 3, 2021
, March 6, 2021.
Web page by
James W. Sternitzky PhD,
March 6, 2021.