Alumnus wins New Jersey Governor’s Educator of the Year Award

GSE alum Adrian Bennett was recently awarded the New Jersey Governor’s Educator of the Year award. The Governor’s Educator of the Year Program highlights educational innovation, student achievement, exemplary teaching, and important services outside the classroom environment that lead to student success. This celebratory program recognizes our state’s best teachers and educational services professionals.

Bennett received his bachelors and master’s degrees from Rutgers University. “I loved Rutgers and was still in the area at the time when I was considering pursuing a graduate degree. I knew the School Counseling program was top-ranked and I had to be a part of that.”

Bennett’s desire to become a counselor stems from his very positive experience with his high school counselor, who he remains in contact with to this day. “She’s retired now, but I have stayed in touch with her. I was a good student and was involved in sports. She kept me focused on what was most important – providing me with scholarship opportunities and encouraging me to be goal-oriented, which helped me make it through high school when I also had to deal with outside factors which could have negatively influenced me. When I tell others about my experience with her they are genuinely surprised since most do not have that kind of connection with their counselors.”

This award pulls in several facets of Bennett’s career. In addition to being involved with his school’s community members, such as parents, volunteers, activists, and administration, he continues to be involved with the GSE. Once a semester he gives a guest lecture to Associate Professor Caroline Clauss-Ehler’s class and also helps to interview potential school counseling students for the program.

When speaking about receiving the award, Bennett states, “I am happy, but I do not feel like I have accomplished everything. It’s great to be recognized and know that I have achieved this honor, but I have not done all that I want to do yet in the community. I have so much more to do and a bigger impact to make in the field.”

Bennett has been in his current role for the last four years but is greatly looking forward to beginning to work with the East Brunswick community as a school counselor. When reflecting on his experiences at the GSE that helped him achieve this honor, he gives special credit to Caroline Clauss-Ehlers and Professor Saundra Tomlinson-Clarke. “I’m constantly in touch with both of them. When I interviewed for my current role, I emailed them and asked them to wish me luck. I kept in touch with both of them ever since.”

Bennett’s prior experience includes working with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency as well as working as a literacy tutor and supervisor for the America Reads program. Future career goals for Bennett are to eventually become a Director of Guidance. “I am looking forward to this next step in my career, so I can help transform school counseling programs on a larger scale. Right now, I am enjoying working directly with the students, so I want to continue that as long as I can.”