- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A career- and college-readiness counselor at Olympia High School is being honored as one of six finalists for a national award for school guidance counselors.

Kim Reykdal is heading to Washington, D.C., next month to meet with lawmakers, attend a congressional briefing, participate in a White House ceremony featuring first lady Michelle Obama and celebrate at a black-tie gala, The Olympian reported (https://is.gd/iEHI8j ).

Reykdal says her husband, state Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, has been invited to the other Washington a couple of times but has never gone. This time, the lawmaker and candidate for state Superintendent of Public Instruction plans to join his wife for the award ceremony and festivities.

“We sort of joke that the first time we get to go to the White House will be because of me,” Kim Reykdal said with a chuckle. “That’s sort of the joke right now is he’s riding on my coattails for once.”

Kim Reykdal has worked at Olympia High School since 2006. Before that she worked as a school counselor at Yelm, Capital and Tumwater high schools.

“She’s done an awful lot of heavy work for our students,” said Olympia High principal Matt Grant. “She’s very high-energy, very student-focused and very passionate about making school relevant and meaningful for students.”

Reykdal was selected as the state’s 2015 Career Counselor of the Year last February. She also is in her second term as a Tumwater School Board director and is co-chair of the Washington School Counselor Association’s advocacy committee.

All of the finalists received a paid trip to Washington, D.C., for themselves and two guests. Reykdal is bringing Olympia High School assistant principal Mick Hart and Chris Kelly, executive director of the Washington School Counselor Association.

Reykdal grew up in Orange County, California, and moved to the Northwest to attend Washington State University on an athletic scholarship for swimming.

At the end of her sophomore year, she decided to pursue a teaching degree so that she could continue taking psychology classes, without committing to extra time required to become a psychologist.

She and her husband taught for a few years before they decided to attend graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love, that is true,” Reykdal said of teaching.

She earned a master’s in education with certification in school counseling.

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Information from: The Olympian, https://www.theolympian.com

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