MCC counselor leads the way for new model

Nikolas Martin

Theresa Putnam-Genz’s journey to becoming one of the best school counselors in Iowa has definitely been an eventful one.

Theresa Putnam-Genz with her Iowa School Counselor of the Year Award.

Mrs. Putnam-Genz, who is a counselor for MCC, and Louisa-Muscatine and Columbus high schools, didn’t always see herself being where she is today. Growing up on a farm in Iowa, she described herself as very sheltered. So when she graduated high school and moved to Tulane University in  New Orleans, Louisiana, she described her experience as “a big culture shock.”

She met many interesting people during her time there. Her roommate was a nationally ranked ice skater, and another person she met ended up being the son of one of the “Ghostbusters” movie producers.

While at Tulane, she couldn’t quite decide what her major would be, as she said she made up her mind about 100 times.

Eventually, after her first year, she transferred to Truman State in Missouri, and eventually decided to major in Justice Systems to become a juvenile officer. Life in college seemed to be pretty good for her, as she eventually got comfortable enough with her new campus that she decided to join a sorority, which lead her to many friendships that she still has to this day.

After three years at Truman State, she graduated with her degree and started immediately applying for jobs in her field. She landed a few of them, but after a while, she decided to try something new, as she felt like being a juvenile officer wasn’t quite right for her.

This led her to Louisa-Muscatine High School, where she volunteered because she wanted to help kids make the next step after high school.

“I wanted to help kids through life because I had to figure that out on my own, and I wanted to help others with that experience.”

She liked her experience so much that she decided to go back to school, this time at the University of Iowa, to become a school counselor. After she was done with Iowa, she was hired back as a school counselor at L-M, where she still is working today, although she now is also a school counselor for Columbus High School, as well as a college counselor here at MCC.

That made her the first counselor in Iowa to serve three different schools and colleges.

Since then, other school districts have tried it. Another counselor serves West Liberty and Wilton to see if it could work in other schools as well. Putnam-Genz has also recently been awarded the Multi Level School Counselor of the Year, which was presented to her by David Ford and the Mississippi Bend AEA.

While she is definitely proud of her award that represents all the hard work she’s put in over the last twelve plus years, what she’s most proud of is all the relationships she’s built with her students.

“I’m most proud of the connections I make with my students, I send a letter out to every single student when they graduate, and I pride myself on making relationships with the kids, and trying to understand them and finding all the good things they have about them.”

This mindset, along with all the hard work she has put in, is what has made her one of the GOATs of counseling in Iowa.