'It's about human connections'

Shelly Fuller assists students in the after school program at the Madison 2-3 center

HURON —As the 2019-2020 school year moved to distance education, students in second and third grade were able to check the Facebook page titled, “Madison 2-3 Center School Counseling with Ms. Fuller - MSW, CSW.” There, Shelly Fuller’s “would you rather Wednesdays” and “mindful Mondays” allowed students to engage from home with more than just schoolwork coming from their school.

For her ingenuity in relating to the students — among a host of other reasons — Fuller is one of the 2020 Women in Leadership choices.

She has been a certified social worker providing school counseling with the Huron School District since 2015, but she has a passion for mental health that has burned since her teenage years.

She was first able to work in the field as a community prevention networker with Community Counseling Services (CCS) in 1999. That position led to a role as a children’s outpatient mental health case manager with CCS.

Fuller stated that she learned how to approach families in those positions, a skill that has become tremendously valuable in the school system.

“I keep in mind when making contact with families to be nonjudgmental, personable and most of all building relationships with families whenever possible,” Fuller said. “It is really about human connection.”

She was able to work with Crow Creek Tribal Schools from 2010-2015 as an elementary family advocate, a position she states that she truly misses. She reflects that the education on the Native American culture working on the reservation that exceeded any previous education that she’d experienced in her own schooling.

When asked for a woman that influenced her most, Fuller’s answer was quick and easy — her grandmother.

“The woman that comes to mind first is my grandmother. Justina (Tschetter) Fuller. I am tearing up as I think about her. She raised her three children on her own after her husband died unexpectedly on the farm. They were seven, five, and three. She had an eighth-grade education and never had a driver’s license.”

Fuller continued, “She cleaned houses to make a living and then she raised me. My mother and I lived with her but she was really more of the parent than my mother was.”

Fuller said she believes she gets her strong sense of humor from her grandmother, and she finds herself using the phrase “you know what my grandma told me…” with students often at school.

There are many reasons that Shelly would have for a young woman to follow her footsteps, but she believes that being granted permission into others’ lives is a privilege to strive for:

“Social work or counseling is such a rewarding job because people you do not know are allowing you into the most private part of their lives. You really have to love people and want to help people be a better human.”

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