E. Gordon Poling Administrator Award

Unpublished material – USD Photograph Collection, Series 9, photograph of Dr. Gordon Poling 

The E. Gordon Poling Award was established in 1991. E. Gordon Poling was born to a farm family in Iowa and learned early the need for hard work. he sometimes stated that he started work at age 13 and had never stopped. He spent his early professional career in public school work in Iowa and stated his personal motto as "I have always tried to treat people fairly." Dr. Poling served the University of South Dakota and future counselors for 29 years. He was chairperson of the Division of Educational Psychology and Counseling from 1979-1990. During his tenure at the University and through his active leadership in the profession in the state and region, he never lost his ability to nurture students and fellow professionals. Dr. Poling served as only the second chair of the USD Counseling Department, and is credited by his colleagues with spearheading the development of the counseling program at USD.  He was a true counselor educator. Gordon died on August 30, 1990. As a memorial to Dr. Poling, the SD Counseling Association Board of Directors voted to rename the administrator award in his honor. 

Dr. Joan England of USD, a longtime colleague , observed of him, "Gordon was a humble man. He never knowingly called attention to himself, yet he was a person whose counsel was sought. His opinion was highly valued by students and colleagues who spent time with him. We who knew him are deeply grateful for the opportunity to count Gordon as a friend and colleague."

These winners have demonstrated an understanding of the counseling profession and unqualified support of it. Each individuals is or was in some kind of supervisory position over counselors, counselor-interns, or students of counseling.


2021 Winner: Patti-Lake Torbert

 In her career of over thirty years in the field of school counseling, Patti has made a positive impact in the lives of countless students, families, school counseling interns, and colleagues across the field of education. Patti has been a stalwart guide, helping to navigate so many of us through the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the world of education. She has continued to be a proven resource to students, families, and educational professionals throughout the district and state. Patti will make time to discuss student safety issues, help school counselors and administrator support their buildings, and is a powerful advocate for the need of school counselors and school counseling programs. -Jeff Heavlin

Congratulations Patti!


Past Award Winners

  • 2021- Patti Lake-Torbert
  • 2019 - Dr. Andrea Bjornestad
  • 2018 - Celeste Uthe-Burow
  • 2017 - Dr. Anna Schwan
  • 2016 - Wendy Smith
  • 2015 - Dr. Becky Guffin
  • 2013 - Woody Schrenk
  • 2012 - Mark Britzman
  • 2011 - JC Chambers
  • 2010 - Mark Hedges
  • 2008 - James Korcuska
  • 2007 - Kelly Duncan
  • 2006 - Jay Trenhaile
  • 2005 - Howard Smith
  • 2004 - Roy Conrad
  • 2003 - Belle Fourche Administration
  • 2002 - David Fiedler
  • 2001 - Ruth Johnson
  • 2000 - Jan Nicolay