Local school counselor honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at White House

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Terri Tchorzynski was pretty nervous while at the White House last week. She won the national Counselor of the Year award in early 2016. And last Tuesday, she was honored for it in front of her family, peers and her hero.

“Under Terri’s leadership more students than ever before attended workshops on resume writing, FAFSA completion, and interview preparation” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And all of this is one small part of what Terri does for her students each day.”

Mrs. Obama introduced Terri before she delivered her acceptance speech. Terri said she still can’t believe it.

“I met her,” said Terri smiling during an interview at Harper Creek High School where she coaches basketball. “She’s amazing. She’s just very personable and professional.”

Prior to the ceremony, Terri — along with her parents, two young sons and husband — spent the week participating in event-related activities like having dinner at the Swiss ambassador’s home and speaking to CNN and NPR about the trials and triumphs of high school counseling. While there, it was Michelle’s farewell week and she ran into a lot of the First Lady's friends.

“I got to meet Usher and got a picture taken with him,” said Terri. “Coach Jim Harbaugh. So being from Michigan that’s obviously a treat.”

And there was former Lions superstar WR Calvin Johnson, actress Connie Britton, and singer Kelly Rowland. She stood in line with actor Kal Penn for 10-15 minutes before meeting Michelle, she said. When they called her name to meet her, it’s a moment she’ll never forget.

“When I was introduced as who I was, her first response was, before I could say anything was ‘Oh my gosh, Terri, I’ve been wanting to meet you. I've been reading about you,” said Terri. “And I thought ‘Oh my’ to hear our First Lady say that about me was just, I didn’t know what to say at that point.”

So she hugged Mrs. Obama and thanked her for supporting education and school counseling. Terri flew back to Michigan on Saturday and is still in awe of her trip. She said it’s been a whirlwind. However her passion lies with her students and she’s glad to be back.

“I don’t ever think about the awards,” said Terri. “I’m not a school counselor so I can be the school Counselor of the Year. I’m a school counselor so I can help my students. So then to surprisingly be acknowledged for this is just amazing.”

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