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Thanks to Teachers: Joy Sollie

Joy Sollie is a guidance counselor at Junaluska Elementary School. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

"Who can tell me what empathy means?" guidance counselor Joy Sollie asked her class at Junaluska Elementary School.

"When you step into someone else's shoes," one fourth-grader answered.

The class is getting a lesson on basic kindness from Sollie, a longtime guidance counselor and second-year employee at Junaluska.

The kids are eager to learn about empathy and perception and Sollie says it is a much needed lesson after some rough days on the playground with drama-filled kickball games.

"As I was going through middle school and high school, I always liked helping my friends that were arguing with other friends," Sollie remembered.

Sollie says the green ball she throws and catches with her students while asking questions, along with bicycle desks, keep the kids moving and thinking clearly.

"When they come to my classroom, they've been sitting and reading or doing math for hours. So, I try to get some kind of movement in my lesson to kind of wake them up and keep them more alert," she explained.

Some of the young students say Sollie has already changed their lives.

"I was very upset, and she was talking to me, getting me through it, and trying to make me feel safer," student Peggy said about a personal situation at home.

"I've learned to be more kind to other people, and to new people," student Mila said.

In addition to counseling, Joy Sollie helped raise $12,000 for the "Rise Against Hunger" program, where Junaluska students helped prepare 30,000 meals.

"You can be the positive in the world," states Sollie. "You know you turn on the news and see such negative, school violence and things. We can be the change. We can be the positive."

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