Turning a characteristic into a career


Photo courtesy Debbie Fruithandler

Coppell High School counselor Yolanda Edwards (right, pictured with assistant principal Sherri Hankins and lead counselor Debbie Fruithandler) inspires family and friends with encouraging Facebook videos. “I feel like I am an encourager, and the reason I’m on this earth is to encourage others; so I try to do that however I can,” Edwards said.

Lina Pyon, Staff Writer

Inside her car, on a Sunday morning, Yolanda Edwards films her uplifting words of encouragement for her friends to see.


“I talk to them [her friends] and say something inspirational, like God loves you and remember that I do too,” Edwards said.


Every week Edwards uploads a video of herself filming some words of enlivenment on Facebook, in which her friends reply that she should have become a sports broadcaster–an unusual second career for a ninth grade counselor.


But in fact, Edwards had always desired to go into sports broadcasting. And through these videos she is able to continue part of that desire, while still doing a job she has always felt a connection to: counseling.


Ever since she was a child, Edwards had always comforted someone she saw was in need.


“Whenever I saw people hurting in anyway, even in elementary school, I was always the one to go over and say ‘what’s wrong’,” Edwards said.


That innocent concern for others solidified as she molded into an adult.  


“As I got older and I saw people in need, I was always the person that said, ‘How can I help you’ and so I’ve always had that in me to always want to help others,” Edwards said.


Becoming an educator, specifically a counselor, was not what Edwards exactly had in mind. She simply knew that she had this innate trait in her that she was going to turn into a career.


And fittingly, she found her way into counseling where she gets to not only help students, but also bring life to the people she works with.


“She has the best personality and has what I call some spunk,” Coppell High School lead counselor Debbie Fruithandler said.


Fruithandler laughs with joy at the vibe that Edwards brings when she comes in for the day.


“It might be a gloomy day, but there she comes all dressed up, making some kind of statement about the day or something that is important to her, and it gives me a little smile,” Fruithandler said.


Fruithandler, being friends with Edwards on Facebook, is exposed to the videos that Edwards posts.


“I just get a kick out of them—she is hysterical,” Fruithandler said.


Fruithandler can see the life in Edwards, and has always noticed that about her ever since Edwards first started working at Coppell High School. Fruithandler served on the hiring committee that brought Edwards to CHS, and she knew there was something special about Edwards from the beginning.


“She always seems to take things in stride, by not getting flustered and approaching every task and activity with ‘I am going to get this done’, which is an amazing positive,” Fruithandler said.


She may bring energy, but Edwards also harbors a serene mood.


“She brings a calming effect to a sometimes crazy world of counseling, which is great because our jobs are a lot more stressful and involving than what meets the eye,” Fruithandler said.


Her calm and encouraging presence lightens the mood of her coworker, but also, importantly, helps when counseling her students and guiding them through their educational and personal lives.


Senior Neha Purandare spoke about how Edwards helped her during freshman year and beyond.


Even after freshmen year, we stayed in touch and I always went in her office to talk about different things because she’s hilarious and extremely easy to talk to,” Purandare said.


They talk about a range of topics, but what those topics all have in common is a counselor who is willing to comfort as much as she listens.


“I can just say whatever’s on my mind without worrying about what she’s going to think about me, and so I know that she’s always got my back,” Purandare said.


Since Edwards has been one to comfort others for most of her life, listening is an act she has learned to master. From Edwards’ listening, others can talk about any topic to her.


“I legitimately go into her office and just talk about everything from friend drama, to college, to complaints about my classes,” Purandare said.


Purandare has a person who is all ears, a characteristic Edwards finds very important. A great feat for a friend to have, but also a very important aspect into being a counselor.


Many people are going through a lot, and everybody’s trying to tell them what they should do; what they shouldn’t do; what they can’t do, but nobody’s actually listening,” Edwards said.

“When you sit down and you just let them get everything out, and then you respond; it’s amazing how much they were able to get out: the best thing anybody can do is listen.”


To comfort is apparently also to listen; therefore, Edwards has also learned to listen from a very young age, and found listening is a requisite to comforting.


“[Edwards] doesn’t just blindly encourage just to make people feel better, but genuinely cares about what they’re doing and how that’s going to impact their future from just hearing what they have to say,” Purandare said.


Helping others is a passion Edwards has always had. And she finds a greater meaning in her words of support.


I feel like I am an encourager, and the reason I’m on this earth is to encourage others; so I try to do that however I can,” Edwards said.


Edwards truly found a way to turn an aspect she loved about herself into a career that can help more than just herself.

Many people are going through a lot, and everybody’s trying to tell them what they should do; what they shouldn’t do; what they can’t do, but nobody’s actually listening

— Yolanda Edwards