Hospodarsky hopes to eliminate education barriers in students’ lives

Aimee Hospodarsky has been with the MCSD for 20 years. She’s taught several grade levels in her career, but enjoys being the district’s elementary school counselor, a title she’s held for 10 years. Hospodarsky’s job also includes working alongside Champ, a certified therapy dog. Here, she works with one of the third grade classes, talking to the students about careers. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     While Elementary School Counselor Aimee Hospodarsky isn’t originally from Monticello, her family definitely feels like lifelong residents of the community.

     Hospodarsky has been working for the Monticello Community School District for 20 years, having taken on several different roles. She first started in the fall of 1996 as a half-time sixth-grade teacher. Her career in education included: two years with sixth grade, three years with third grade, five years as a middle school counselor, and now 10 years as an elementary school counselor.

     Hospodarsky has worked in both Monticello and Cedar Rapids, having taken time away from the MCSD to teach in Cedar Rapids for a period of time.

     “I feel I’m able to have a bigger role in the management of the school counseling program in a smaller school district,” Hospodarsky said.

     She was always bound for education.

     “From the time I was young, I always knew I wanted to do something with kids,” she said. “I was pretty certain I was going to be a teacher.”

     Teaching runs in Hospodarsky’s family. “They’re role models for me,” she said.

     No day is ever the same for an elementary school counselor, and Hospodarsky can attest to that. She’s seen in and out of the classrooms at both Shannon and Carpenter schools. She spends every Monday and Thursday at Carpenter, and every Tuesday and Friday at Shannon, splitting every other Wednesday at either school.

     “There is no such day as a regular day,” she said. “Every day might change; that’s the nature of the job.”

     Hospodarsky hits on three different domains as she works with the students: careers, academic, and social/emotional.

     “The curriculum I deliver to all of the students addresses each domain,” she explained.

     Hospodarsky sees the students one-on-one individually, in large groups and small groups. She also collaborates with the two other school counselors in the district.

     “We meet together every two weeks,” she said. “We are a team.”

     She also attended AEA Counsel Academy.

     While there are three school counselors throughout the district, Hospodarsky said they each have their own unique job, working with different grade levels.

     “I’m the only elementary school counselor in the district,” she said.

     That being said, Hospodarsky shared her unique job led her to wanting to get more involved in other leadership roles, specifically the ISCA (Iowa School Counselor Association). Hospodarsky said there has been a lot of stereotypes associated with her job, namely that school counselors help students through career exploration. That task is attributed to the term “guidance counselor.”

     “We’re much more than that now,” said Hospodarsky. “We focus on a proactive, data driven system that’s more comprehensive.”

     Hospodarsky has been involved with the ISCA for seven years now, and currently serves as president. This leadership role includes also being a delegate to the national SCA, as well as other statewide counseling organizations.

     Hospodarsky explained that as she got further in her education career, she felt drawn to the school counseling aspect.

     “I want to help eliminate the barriers to learning,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing, addressing these barriers that impact student success.”

     Champ, a certified therapy dog, aids Hospodarsky in her job, and is a huge hit with the young students. This marks Champ’s fifth year with the MCSD.

     “He lets us live with him,” joked Hospodarsky of the family pet who’s part Lab and part Australian Shepherd.

     Champ was actually adopted as the Hospodarskys’ dog when Hospodarsky got the idea to introduce him to her students.

     “I have colleagues who had dogs and I was interested in the idea,” she said. She said Champ, who was adopted from the Humane Society, simply had the perfect temperament and personality for elementary-age students. “He just fit the profile and was trainable.”

     Champ links directly to some of the curriculum that Hospodarsky teaches, and becomes a friend and confidant to the students.

     “The kids like to read to Champ and write him letters,” said Hospodarsky. “He’s a great ambassador.”

     To add to Hospodarsky’s leadership roles, she also serves on the district’s Building Leadership Team, PBIS committee, TLS curriculum leader, Teacher Dialogue Committee, and Facilities Committee.

     Working for the MCSD, Hospodarsky said she enjoys working for a school district that “is willing to explore the options and what works best for the kids.

     “There’s an open-mindedness to ideas and that’s a great thing for these kids,” Hospodarsky added.

     Her passion for children is evident. Hospodarsky received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, double majoring in elementary and early childhood education. She went on to earn her master’s degree from Drake in school counseling.

     “I enjoy my profession as a school counselor,” she said. “It’s my chance to make a difference every day, and it’s an honor and a privilege.”

     Hospodarsky’s husband, Todd, also works for the district at the high school level. They have two sons: Tyler will be a sophomore at UNI in the fall; Grant will be a freshman at MHS.

     The family spends time together at various UNI functions, going to movies, and trips to Disney theme parks.



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