When she was growing up, Kim Quain never doubted whether she was going to earn a college degree. Quain, now a college/career counselor at Hazelwood West High School, was raised by a single mother worked at General Electric in the factory for 42 years. Her mother, Jeanette Lewis, repeatedly told her two children that they would further their education, Quain said.
“Didn’t have a lot of money,” Quain said. “Didn’t know how we were going to do it, but there was never a doubt since I was little that I was going to go to college and that was the goal. With her pushing and driving me, that’s where I am today.”
After Quain earned her masters’ degree, her mother retired from General Electric.
Quain plans to retire as a counselor.
“It’s very rewarding to help students reach for goals and achieve their goals,” Quain said. “I plan on doing this as long as I can. I love working with my families.”
During the six years that Quain has been a college counselor at Hazelwood West, the amount of scholarships earned by their students has doubled.
“Kimberly has done a phenomenal job over the last several years in helping our students to realize their academic potential,” said Bruce Green, assistant superintendent for Hazelwood high schools. “In fact, she was responsible for helping the 2017 Hazelwood West graduates to secure post-secondary scholarship opportunities that exceeded $11 million. I am very proud of her.”
On September 23, Quain will receive the 2017 SEMO Counselor of the Year Award at the St. Louis American Foundation’s 30th annual Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala. The proceeds from the event, held at the America’s Center, benefit the foundation, which distributed more than $700,000 in minority scholarships and grants last year.
A St. Louis native, Quain graduated from Ritenour High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Louisiana – Monroe, where she also earned her master’s in education.
As a first-generation college student, Quain worked throughout college to support herself and pay tuition. She said she understands the obstacles that many of her students are facing today when pursuing their post-secondary education.
She spent nine years as a counselor at Ritenour, and she is starting her 11th year at Hazelwood West – where she’s served the last six years as a college counselor. In her first four years, she was a guidance counselor.
She is proud of her relationship with her students’ parents. They often reach out to her for information on financial aid, applications and other things.
“Knowing that they feel comfortable contacting me is what I think is most gratifying in my job,” Quain said.
Quain has developed and implemented several programs to bridge the gap between school and parents. During her tenure at Hazelwood West, she has implemented a Curriculum Fair, Financial Aid Night, and College and Career Recognition Day.
In her first year as a college counselor, the Hazelwood administration decided they wanted to recognize not just the graduating athletes but also “students who have done what they needed to do to start the next step of their life,” she said. So, Quain organized the College Recognition Day, which is a reception where students are individually recognized for their acceptance into their college of choice. The students are announced, and they shake the principal’s hand.
“It’s a very exciting time for them,” Quain said. “The community loves it. It was so well received here that the other buildings in the district started doing it as well.”
Quain’s Curriculum Fair, which happens during registration time, is another successful program that she started. During one evening, students will come in with registration sheets and representatives from every department are available to talk to students about what they can expect from the different courses. Some teachers give demonstrations of their classes. Students can also talk to representatives from clubs and sports teams.
Since starting the fair, the school has been able increase the number of students who sign up for AP classes and extracurricular activities, she said. The fair’s attendance has also gone up from 300 in the first year to 1,100 last year.
“Our faculty enjoys it also because they get to meet with parents and answer questions,” she said.
As a college counselor, she loves to watch students start the process of seeing schools they want to attend and what they want to major in.
“Throughout the years that I work with them, we tweak that,” Quain said. “And by the time they are seniors, it’s so rewarding to see them have grown so much and to see them go on to the next step of their life.”
The 2017 Salute to Excellence in Education Gala will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, September 23, 2017 at the America's Center Ballroom, following a reception at 5 p.m. Tickets are on sale now. Individual tickets are $85 each/$850 table, and VIP/Corporate tickets are $1,500 table. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.stlamerican.com and click on Salute to Excellence, or call 314-533-8000.