The Arnold Mill Elementary counselor was taken aback to see a room full of family and co-workers when he thought he was meeting with Principal Kerry Martin about student testing.
“I’m floored,” he said. “I’m speechless.”
Jordan has worked at the school since 2004 as a counselor, where he not only meets with students in their classrooms and in small group sessions, but coordinates all testing activities, Career Day and the Giving Tree program, a schoolwide community service where students are encouraged to collect toys to donate to MUST Ministries — just to name a few of his everyday duties.
Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo presented Jordan with a plaque during the surprise visit. Jordan, who qualified for the award after being nominated as Counselor of the Year for River Ridge Innovation Zone, will also be honored during the April 18 Board of Education meeting.
Petruzielo said he’s heard several positive stories about Jordan, including one about when he helped a fourth-grade student adjust back to school and cope with post-traumatic stress disorder after her home was destroyed in a fire.
“The leadership you show here on a daily basis really makes a heck of a difference,” Petruzielo said. “The kids, the staff, the community — everybody is better for it.”
Previously, Jordan worked at William H. Barnes Transitional Learning Center in Mableton as a math teacher and counselor and also spent 21 years teaching at a North Carolina community college.
“I’ve really enjoyed all of it,” he said. “They’re all different, but I’ve had a blessed life.”
Originally from Cherokee County, N.C., where his father served as school superintendent, Jordan’s family is full of educators.
His wife of almost 41 years, Karen, works for Cartersville City School System and daughter Becky Pfaff works alongside him at Arnold Mill as a special education teacher.
“We love it,” Pfaff said of working with her dad. “We eat lunch together all the time.”
Jordan said his favorite part about work is meeting the kids every morning.
“You can come in in a bad mood, but the kids come in and see you — you see them smile and you can’t help but smile too, ” he said.
Another component of counseling he enjoys is helping people and being a positive influence in childrens’ lives.
The kind-natured grandfather held back tears as he told a story of a young student.
“A little boy came in yesterday and told me he was taking out the garbage and a white van came up, and the man told him to get in the van. Then the boy said, ‘Thank God for Mr. Jordan,’ because he knew what to do because of Good Touch — Bad Touch (safety lessons.)”
The safety instruction is just a part of Jordan’s dedicated connection to the students. He also holds lunchtime sessions with groups of students several times a week as part of either a reward or for those struggling in certain areas. The sessions sometimes feature guest speakers on topics such as self-esteem and time management and typically include role-play scenarios.
Despite the daily challenges that come with meeting the various needs of students and helping them cope with difficult problems, Jordan said he keeps a positive outlook.
“Sometimes you lose your faith in humanity but again, the kids come in (each day), they smile and say, ‘Hey, Mr. Jordan!’ I’ve been very fortunate. Very blessed,” Jordan said.