HUDSON — Sarah Flier knows that a snowball can be more than it seems.

The school counselor at Willow River Elementary School, Flier said she enjoys that her role allows her to help students proactively.

Helping two kids solve a problem with a snowball from one fort to another, for example, can prepare them to solve a problem later on in life.

“I can infuse some of those skills now,” she said.

Flier was honored this year as the Wisconsin School Counselor Association’s Counselor of the Year.

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“I was very surprised,” Flier said.

The award recognizes an individual school counselor who has devoted their career to serving as advocate for Wisconsin students, and demonstrates leadership, advocacy and collaboration, according to the Wisconsin School Counselor Association website.

“I know it goes without saying but this is a huge honor not only for Sarah and Willow River but for our entire Raider community,” Chief of Schools Officer Erin Schiltgen said at a March School Board meeting.

Flier and other Hudson school counselors have been honored in the past with the association’s Programs of Promise award. This year four of the seven schools recognized were from the Hudson district — Flier at Willow River, Kelly Curtis at EP Rock, Aria Krieser at Hudson Prairie and Chris Strop at North Hudson

Programs of Promise is given based on accountability reports, submitted by counselors, that track how students have grown.

“It really focuses on results data,” Flier said.

Flier said her participation in Program of Promise led to her state counselor honor. After submitting her first program report, she was asked to be a trainer for the association.

“I’m the only trainer this side of Madison,” Flier said.

She works with other districts, helping them organize their programs, sharing ideas and solving problems.

Flier is in her 13th year as a school counselor.

She was drawn to the career by a family friend, Peg Getty, who is also a school counselor.

After graduating with a degree in psychology and working as a case manager and then a paraprofessional, Flier knew she wanted to be in education, but didn’t know how. Getty suggested school counseling, so Flier applied for a program at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

“Then I just really knew that it was right for me,” she said.

Flier has worked with Willow River Elementary and the Hudson School District for six years. She started after a move from Cumberland.

Joining the Hudson district recharged her, Flier said.

“There’s just so much I can do,” she said.

The six elementaries and their counselors work as a team, sharing and supporting each other.

“I’m really lucky to have that, knowing what I’m doing is my dream job,” Flier said.

She has received support from her principal and the district, as well as families.

“School counselors are always trying to advocate for why we are really important to students, and I feel like I’m preaching to the choir with our district,” she said.

She attributes the award to that support.

“It’s the support of our administration and our families and our teachers that is getting us recognized, she said.

As part of the award, Flier may apply for the national school counselor honors.