“Rebekah is a vital part of the Lower School team. She embodies all of the qualities you will find in a stellar school counselor. She is knowledgeable, has great communication skills, is empathetic and kind, knows when to act, and builds trusting relationships with students, parents, and colleagues. Rebekah is a ‘true champion’ for students and a source of strength and comfort for our parents and teachers.” - Rhonda Helms, Lower School Principal
In an increasingly stressful and anxious day and age, skillful school counselors are critical to a healthy, successful school environment. They offer students a safe place to communicate and process emotional and psychological needs, and empower them with the tools necessary to thrive amidst the growing demands of life and school. At GAC, we see the value in a strong team of school counselors, and we are blessed to offer such qualified individuals to our student body.
And it’s because of those like Lower School Counselor Rebekah Gilliard that our students reap the immense social and emotional benefits.
A GAC graduate herself, Ms. Gilliard’s passion and gifts are undeniable. Growing up she understood the vital role supportive adults have in students’ lives and pursued degrees in counseling psychology in order to be able provide that emotional support.
She is a true gem, and we are thankful to have her serve and impact our student’s each and every day!
To learn more about Rebekah’s story, read the interview below:
Tell us a little more about your upbringing and family life. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lilburn, Georgia. I have one brother who is just less than a year older than me.
Where did you go to high school?
I went to high school at GAC and graduated with the class of 1994.
Where did you go to undergrad? Why did you choose that university?
For my undergrad, I attended Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. At first I didn’t choose ACU due to distance, but after trying a few local schools, I was ready for a change. After hearing such wonderful things about ACU, I gave it a try and really grew to love it. I felt closer to home at ACU than I expected to. I felt safe and loved and quickly like I was among family.
Tell us a little more about your undergrad? What is your degree in? Why?
My degree is in psychology. I chose that because I’ve always been interested in figuring out why people behave the way they do, and I think abnormal psychology is intriguing.
Do you have an advanced degree?
I have a master’s degree in counseling psychology.
What motivated you to go into education/counseling?
Growing up can be challenging, but the presence of helpful, supportive adults can make an enormous impact with lifelong implications. To be that adult in the life of children is an honor. I’m grateful every day that I have this opportunity.
Did you ever imagine you would find yourself in teaching/counseling?
How is GAC’s counseling team specifically supporting our student’s social-emotional health during this pandemic?
Counseling has been busy researching the changing needs of children of all ages during the pandemic and is implementing updated practices to best support them during this unusual time. More than ever, children need an extra dose of relationship, secure boundaries, and emotional safety. Partnering with parents, teachers and administration, counseling is dedicated to offering students space and activities to help cultivate a feeling of security, community and readiness to learn. We are continuing to offer a variety of services including individual, small group and full class check ins, activities and lessons to incorporate regulation and attunement practices to their day.
What do you love about education/counseling?
The kids! When I can see that I’ve helped a child learn a social/emotional skill, or when I see that a hurting child has warmed up to me, that is the best. When they give me hugs, I feel so happy.
What do you do to connect with students?
Say hello to them by name. I don’t know them all, but I try hard to know them. It is important in helping them feel valued. I also think laughing with them is pretty awesome, showing a funny video or something and trying to keep it light when possible.
What do you love most about your job?
Being able to share Jesus. It’s sad to me that this is such a rarity in the workplace and in schools, so I’m especially blessed, as are our students.
What is your role at GAC?
I am a counselor. So I see my role as being a support, a listener, an example of how to be a woman of God, and also a teacher of skills in the social and emotional realms.
What drew you to GAC? Share how you found GAC and decided it was the place for you.
Actually I have always been around. Back in the 1980s I was an elementary student at GAC. I left for a while, and then returned for high school, graduating in ‘94. After getting my master’s, God led me back here.
What would you tell a parent or friend considering sending their student to GAC?
Please come join us! We are not perfect, but we are a community of loving people who care for each other and who are outstanding educators. If you want your child to have a top-notch education with people who will love and care for them, give us a try!
How would you describe the culture at GAC?
I think the culture is bustling. We have a lot going on! It is a vibrant atmosphere with a lot to do and be a part of. So, it’s easy to be part of things if you want to be.
How have you participated in the GAC community? (Mission trips, co curricular, etc.)
I have enjoyed many, many trips with the community. I have been on annual class trips for close to two decades, trips with the Promises singing group, trips to homes for adults with disabilities; enjoyed football and basketball games, dance, choir, band, orchestra and theatre productions; and so on. It has been a great way to show support and also connect with/get to know students in a different way and appreciate the talents God has given them.
Where would someone find you outside of the classroom? What are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading, movies, being with my family, traveling, etc. I hope to expand on my travels in the coming years!
What is a book you’ve read recently?
“A Mother’s Reckoning” by Sue Klebold. It was a tough read, but I found it so interesting. I also really liked “The Whole Brained Child” by Tina Payne Bryson and Daniel J. Siegel.
What’s one thing that’s still on your bucket list?
A trip to Israel. I want to do a Holy Land tour.