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Crystal Apple Award Winner: Colleen Wells

Wells has helped thousands of students in her 37 year career.
Published: May. 7, 2021 at 5:54 PM CDT|Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 6:56 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - NBC15′s fifth and final award recipient of 2021 is Colleen Wells, who is a school counselor in the Monticello School District.

Colleen Wells, school counselor in Monticello, receives one of five NBC15 Crystal Apple Awards.
Colleen Wells, school counselor in Monticello, receives one of five NBC15 Crystal Apple Awards.(Leigh Mills)

“We have children of hers in school here,” says Wells as she points to a bulletin board on the wall of her office filled with old graduation photos from the 80′s and 90′s, “Children of hers are in school here, children of hers in school here.”

School counselor Colleen Wells shows off the graduation photo wall in her office.
School counselor Colleen Wells shows off the graduation photo wall in her office.(Leigh Mills)

The list goes on and on. Wells has been the school counselor in Monticello for 37 years, and for the first 33 of those years, she was the only counselor on staff and tasked with working with every student in every grade.

“She’s always right on top of everything,” says high school senior Natalie Roe, who will be attending UW-Madison in the fall, “Even through there’s so many kids she needs to help, she’s right on top of it for each kid.”

Another senior, Rudy Wicker, who is also attending UW-Madison in the fall agrees, “She does a very good job of setting students up for success in their future for the right classes they’re going to be taking.”

Wells is also in charge of creating the entire district’s class schedule. She starts by working with the students and finding out what they’re most interested in studying. She then builds the schedule for the next school year around the students and their interests.

Wells works with a high school junior to determine which classes she is interested in taking...
Wells works with a high school junior to determine which classes she is interested in taking next school year.(Leigh Mills)

“I love it,” Wells says with a laugh,” I love it... it’s just like working a puzzle, you know, you build it all together.”

“The elective teachers like myself, we are so reliant on her,” explains Mark Olson, who is a graduate of Monticello High School and now teaches in the school, “The options are so limited, both with kids and time in the day, so to make your schedules work, she has to be very creative... I marvel at her every year, and how she’s able coordinate and make this web of complicated decisions work.”

Wells was Lori Brokopp’s mentor. Brokopp is now a half-time elementary school counselor in the district, so she works with Wells. “She has impacted generations of students,” says Brokopp, “I think it’s just really special for someone to be in a school district that long and to serve those students and that community.”

Wells says her struggle now is knowing when to retire. She says next year might be her last, but every year she says that, the kids ask her to come back, and she does. So only time will tell.

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