Center Grove counseling director wins statewide award

Center Grove High School’s guidance director has been recognized with a statewide award.

Meaghan Krukemeier was one of two educators statewide to win a Collaborative Educator Excellence Award. She received the honor during the second annual Indiana Educational Excellence Awards Gala at the Indiana Roof Ballroom Sept. 8. The award recognizes educators who have at least three years of experience and collaborate with partners to identify needs and increase students’ access to future opportunities through those partnerships, according to an Indiana Department of Education news release.

Krukemeier also received $2,500 as part of the award, said Stacy Conrad, spokesperson for Center Grove schools.

Before she was a counselor, Krukemeier started her career as a high school teacher in Illinois. She continued her career in Indiana at Decatur Central High School and then most recently at Center Grove High School, where she taught biology, chemistry and anatomy. During her time as a teacher, she noticed her ability to connect with students who were navigating difficulties in their lives, she said.

“When I started teaching I was young. I taught high school and I was a cheerleading coach, so I worked with kids and they felt like they could talk to me,” Krukemeier said. “I wanted to help them. It was 60% free and reduced (price) lunch where I was. There were a lot of kids in need, and I felt I could use my ability to work with students and become a counselor.”

Even in as large a school as Center Grove High School, Krukemeier works with her team of counselors to make sure no students are overlooked, and even as director, Krukmeier is responsible for 230 students herself.

“I still work with kids and have one-on-one time with students. I also really enjoy being a director and working on the programming side of things with the awesome group of counselors I work with. They are motivated and so innovative. It’s been fantastic, it’s just a really well-oiled machine at this point,” she said. “Of course, it’s overwhelming. I serve a lot of students in this building. I serve students from all facets of life, but I have a fantastic team to help pick up the pieces for one another.”

Krukemeier’s colleagues nominated her for the award, which she learned she’d won via email as she was invited to the ceremony. The award recognizing her collaborative skills wouldn’t be possible without the teamwork of the people she works with, Krukemeier said.

“It was really cool to be nominated for it, first off. To win it was awesome,” she said. “It’s come full circle. As a teacher, I was always collaborating with other people and when I became a counselor I was always working with students. As a team, we see the daily grind and what you know is right for kids. Education is a very thankless job and to get such a big award is really humbling, but to be clear I’m only as good as the people surrounding me. This group of counselors push me to do what I need to do.”

One of the results of those collaborative efforts is College Preview Day at Center Grove High School, which is now in its fifth year.

“We had 23 colleges come this year, which is the biggest turnout we’ve ever had,” she said. “We had over 300 students that came down and took advantage of the day. They had one-on-one conversations with admissions counselors. I work with admissions counselors locally and out of state to meet with kids during our homeroom. We also have partnerships with a lot of our community partners and we have Career Jump Start Day in the spring.”

Krukemeier said her goal is to make sure all students feel prepared for their future.

“If a kid needs me I’ll put the administrative stuff by the wayside,” she said. “I work overtime with kids and families. Every year we have conversations and by the time they become a senior I kind of know the goal they’re working toward and how I can support it.”