Name: Robert Roddy
Position: Counselor, Kula Elementary School
Education: Western Michigan University
"I have an automatic affinity toward them," said Roddy, a counselor at Kula Elementary School on Maui.
Vice Principal Rene J. Yamafuji said Roddy has improved the well-being of the school by guiding students through emotional difficulties and initiating a student recognition program.
"He takes pictures of them, recognizes them and gives them certificates," Yamafuji said.
Roddy spends considerable time counseling children of divorced families and has organized peer support groups to help them work through their feelings of insecurity, guilt and shame.
The "banana splits" groups include seven to 16 students whose parents are divorced.
"A lot of kids think they're the only ones," Roddy said. "They learn there's nothing wrong coming from split families."
Roddy said he was not a good student in high school. But after graduating and parking cars for a year, he decided that college wasn't bad. He excelled and earned a scholarship at Western Michigan University.
As a counselor, his role is to support students and sometimes to remind them that situations may seem bad now but aren't the end of the world.
"A lot of times all it takes is knowing someone is on their side," he said.