Lynn Berry and Emily Nyman have created a life together focused around helping and supporting students. For many years they would finish their jobs as school counselors, meet up for a quick dinner, and then shift their attention to their adult students at CCV-Newport for the evening.
They have become part of the fabric of the Northeast Kingdom’s educational community, weaving themselves into the lives of students there for decades. In recognition of the lives that they’ve touched, and the difference they continue to make, they have each received the Vermont School Counselor Association (VTSCA) Lifetime Achievement Award in back-to-back years, Lynn in 2022 and Emily in 2023.
“There’s no way you could know as you’re zigging and zagging through your life that you’re going to come back around to this [award] and have this wonderful recognition and validation of the every day you got up and went to work,” Emily remarked. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually by the VTSCA and recognizes a counselor who is retired or who has served in the field for over 20 years, acknowledging the quality of service they provide and the difference they make in student, family, school, and community lives.
Lynn came to Vermont in 1976 and started working as a guidance counselor at North Country Union Junior High School (NCUJHS). Emily moved to Vermont fourteen years later, and met Lynn while interning at NCUJHS to earn a new certification and working at the high school part-time. In 1992 they swapped schools, and Lynn worked at the high school until she retired from full-time counseling in 2003 while Emily worked at the junior high school until she retired in 2015.
Since retiring, both have continued to work part-time in elementary schools in various roles and are currently working and volunteering at the Brownington Central School. Lynn has enjoyed working with younger students: “you can do a lot of prevention and feel like you’re having an impact,” she said. “Everybody benefits from a part-time job on your way into retirement,” Emily added, and while some days may feel long, “it’s always a good tired; you feel like you made a difference.” Lynn agreed: “You feel like you have a little bit of wisdom that’s worth passing on.”
While they are both trained and experienced guidance counselors, both women have passions that they have pursued in part through their time as instructors at CCV-Newport since the late 1990s. Lynn was an art teacher prior to moving to Vermont, and now teaches art classes online at CCV such as Survey of Western Art, Art Appreciation, Drawing, Painting, and Art History. Emily’s interest and talent in music emerge at CCV through her online music classes. She currently teaches Music Appreciation, and has taught Intro to Rock and Roll, World Music, Guitar, and Piano in past years.
For their first few years as CCV faculty members, Emily and Lynn both taught at the College while working their full-time jobs; now, they continue to teach while working part-time. While this has made for some long days, Emily appreciates the opportunity to teach college students. “Community college is open to so many folks from so many walks of life, and that’s important to me,” she said. “We’re bringing all these people together, we have some common goals, and they’re going to learn from each other. I learn from them. I’m proud to be affiliated with CCV.”
For both Lynn and Emily, their experience as counselors have complemented their work as CCV instructors. “I could never have taught at CCV without a counseling degree,” Lynn said. “The students we typically [serve] have families or other things going on; there was a lot of counseling going on.” Emily agreed, saying “Being a school counselor has helped me challenge enough, provide enough support, and find a good balance,” while she teaches at CCV. “It’s not always perfect, but it certainly is better than it would have been if I hadn’t had that experience with counseling.”
Lynn and Emily were both surprised by their Lifetime Achievement Award. For Emily, receiving the award was “a way of validating what you’ve done with your life. Thirty years in the same community has given me many opportunities for people to come up and thank me, but nothing can replace this formal recognition.”
The kids at the Brownington school were excited to celebrate both Emily and Lynn for their achievement, giving out hugs and creating drawings and notes saying ‘thank you for helping us’ through their work as counselors. “It’s nice to go through a job where doing the job is rewarding enough, but after all of these years it’s a culmination of that,” Lynn said of receiving the award. “In the end, you look at it all, and as I leave each day I know I changed somebody’s day. I know I was there for a reason…you make a difference.”