Listening and leading

Lisa Koenecke takes PRIDE in school counseling

Lisa Koenecke, ’91

Don’t expect Lisa Koenecke to be looking through the rear view mirror when searching for successful ways to prepare students for the future. She takes the challenges head on — through the windshield.

The ’91 major in psychology is viewed as a leader among the Wisconsin’s middle school counselors who work with students crafting their personal and social dynamics, academic skills and career goal development. As president of Wisconsin School Counselor Association and representing more than 1,200 of the state’s middle school counselors, Koenecke advocated for them to have PRIDE — Professional Responsibility in Defining Education.

In her day-to-day role as a counselor at River Bluff Middle School in Stoughton, Koenecke works to create a protected, positive educational environment. “If students aren’t feeling safe, they might not come to school,” she explains. “If they don’t come to school, they might not learn. If they don’t learn, achievement and graduation rates decline.”

Koenecke not only works well with students, she’s respected among colleagues including a fellow alum serving as superintendent of the Stoughton School District.

“Lisa has the energy, leadership and human relations skills necessary to succeed at anything she strives for,” says Tim Onsager, ’90. “She has high expectation for herself and strives to provide learning opportunities for all students within a just and caring climate.”

The Lisa Koenecke file

  • Passionate advocate for youth and school counseling
  • Counselor at River Bluff Middle School, Stoughton
  • Past president of the Wisconsin School Counselor Association
  • Board of Directors, American School Counselor Association
  • Wisconsin Gay Straight Alliance of Safe Schools Educator of the Year, 2013
  • Kohl Fellowship Award, 2016
  • Master’s in school counseling from UW-Whitewater, 2008
  • Bachelor’s in psychology from UWL, 1991

The 6 receiving distinguished alumni awards

Alumni being honored for distinguished service and successful careers return to campus in fall. They will speak with students and participate in a panel at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, in the Great Hall, Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. An Alumni Awards Brunch and Ceremony is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. Get ticket information.

Awards and honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

  • Shelmina Abji, ’85

Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

  • Patrick Gonzales, ’05
  • Hollie Nyseth Brehm, ’08

Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding alumni who have contributed greatly to improve multiracial culture and understanding on campus and in their careers. History Professor Emeritus James Parker initiated the award in 1997.

  • Jessica McMunn, ’05

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, long-time supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

  • Lisa Koenecke, ’91
  • Christopher Gleason, ’02

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles recognizing alumni receiving distinguished service awards in September 2017.