Recognition is a Highlight in Jarratt’s School Counseling Career

LUBBOCK – It’s been a little more than a week since Dr. Judy Jarratt was recognized with the Texas School Counselor Association’s award as Counselor Educator of the Year, but the enormity of the recognition is not lost on her.

“This is one of the most humbling awards I’ve received,” Jarratt said. “This is from my peers. People I have worked with for 30 years, and people I continue to work with.”

Jarratt, the Interim Executive Director of Wayland Baptist University – Lubbock, proudly displays the crystalline figure on the corner of her desk. Her career as an educator and her involvement with the Texas School Counselor’s Association has spanned more than 30 years.

“I started when I was 12,” she joked. “For a very long time I’ve been active in this organization, and I think it is the best professional organization for counseling.”

Jarratt’s career began as a high school teacher. In her experience, she saw the need to reach students on a more personal level to help them deal with issues they were facing on a daily basis. She decided to pursue a counseling degree.

“It was a time when very many high school students were experimenting with substances and some of my best students would get drunk every weekend and they were testing on some other things,” she said. “I just knew that if I could get my counseling degree, I could help these students. But it didn’t work out that way.”

Jarratt began her counseling career as the K-12 counselor at Wellman-Union and Meadow, a couple of small schools southwest of Lubbock. But like so many school counselors, her time was spent doing other things.

“I did everything from the reading tests for kindergarten kids, the gifted and talented for K-12, the achievement tests, state tests … I did everything but counseling,” Jarratt said.

Jarratt knows the system needs to change and as a member of TSCA she has been working to change the rules governing school counselors and their job requirements. Legislation has been passed that will eliminate some of the paperwork for school counselors and make it a requirement that schools must have a counselor of every 300 students instead of 1,500. In an effort led by Eddie Lucio, who received the TSCA Lifetime Achievement Award, the TSCA has also passed legislation that will require that 80% of a counselor’s time be spent seeing students with only 20% on other administrative or clerical duties.

“The thing is, we pay school counselors, who have master’s degrees, to do clerical work,” Jarratt said. “We would encourage schools to hire more clerical employees, but there is only so much money in the school budget.”

Even though school counseling wasn’t exactly what she hoped it would be, Jarratt went on to earn her Doctor of Education in Leadership degree from Texas Tech University. While her Ed.D. wasn’t officially in school counseling, Jarratt said her dissertation subject was working with student success in alternative schools and her dissertation committee consisted of psychology educators.

“Technically it’s Ed.D. Leadership, but my work is still with the kids,” Jarratt said.

Jarratt continued to work in counseling education, teaching for Wayland from 2004-2019. She then went to work for Texas Tech, setting up a program to get public schools involved in telehealth counseling resources. Under her leadership the program grew from 30 schools to more than 400 in just three years. Jarratt officially retired at the end of June 2021, enjoying the retired life for one day before coming back to Wayland to fill the Executive Director role in Lubbock. She said Dr. David Bishop, who served as the executive director of the Lubbock Campus while she was teaching for Wayland and is now the vice president of external campuses, talked her into changing her plans.

“Dr. Bishop and I talked the day after I retired, so I didn’t really ever retire,” Jarratt said.

She doesn’t regret coming back the Wayland, however.

“When I accepted this job, it’s just like peace washed over me,” she said. “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

While she enjoys learning the administrative responsibilities that come with running a campus, Jarratt is still involved in school counselor education, serving as a supervisor for students who are in counseling programs. In this role, she works with students on a one-on-one basis to make sure they understand their role and that they get the support they need.

Despite her hard work throughout the years, Jarratt said she was surprised to receive the Counselor Educator of the Year Award. She didn’t know she had been nominated and wasn’t sure what to think when she received the letter saying she had won. While extremely grateful for the recognition, she does say there was one thing she wishes could have been different.

“The awards ceremony was on Feb. 13 … Super Bowl Sunday,” she said. “I didn’t get to watch the game.”