During National School Counseling Week (Feb. 4-8), we salute GCPS counselors for their work to develop and elevate students’ skills and abilities in the areas of academics, careers, and personal growth. Using specialized training and data-based interventions and programs, school counselors guide students through activities that raise awareness, inspire exploration, and drive preparation. Counselors work with students throughout their school years, setting and building upon the foundation of academic skills, career exploration, and personal/social awareness at each level— elementary, middle, and high school. While the work of the school counselor is unique, school counselors leverage the expertise of all professionals in the building. They work as collaborators and catalysts to help create productive and inspiring learning environments that meet students where they are, and lead them to success. Counselors work to support development in the areas of academics, careers, and personal/social growth as well as helping students to self-assess their own needs in these areas. Equipping our students with the tools necessary to be successful in every aspect of life is always the ultimate goal of our comprehensive counseling programs.
"The goal of school counseling is to move students one step closer to graduation and personal success by making connections and preparing students for both success and challenge in school and as well as their chosen careers through quality comprehensive school counseling programs," Dr. Tinisha Parker, director of GCPS' Office of Advisement and Counseling.
This week, school and district leaders gathered to honor our counselors for their work and to celebrate counselors, leaders, and schools who earned special awards. At a special recognition event on Tuesday, Feb. 5, the following district honorees were named:
· 2019 GCPS Elementary School Counselor of the Year, Nicole Moody, Sycamore ES
· 2019 GCPS Middle School Counselor of the Year, Natalie Edirmanasinghe, Pinckneyville MS
· 2019 GCPS High School Counselor of the Year, Dr. LaVonna Groce, Maxwell HS of Technology
· 2019 GCPS Counseling Administrator of the Year, Principal David Jones, Mason ES
In addition, four schools— Ferguson ES (with Distinction), Lanier MS, Mason ES, and Shiloh MS— were recognized as 2018 recipients of the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) National Award. This award recognizes schools that are committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-driven counseling program. The 2018 honorees are among the 31 counseling departments in Gwinnett that currently hold the RAMP designation. A number of schools have earned the RAMP distinction twice, even three times. Every five years, schools are required to "Re-RAMP" to retain this certification. This is the third time for Mason’s counseling department to earn RAMP, and the department has retained certification continuously since first earning the designation in 2010.
About Counseling in Gwinnett County Public Schools
Counselors raise awareness in all areas that contribute to a student’s well-being and overall school success. From kindergarten to high school, counselors teach the importance of hard work and a strong work ethic. Through intentional lessons, students learn skills that promote academic achievement, self-management, and appropriate behaviors. Through counselor-led activities, students become aware of their abilities and develop and enhance the skills necessary to fulfill their potential.
Counselors inspire exploration through activities and processes that ensure students are reaching beyond the limitations of their personal experiences. They encourage students to dream big and reach higher, working diligently to help their students develop the skills required for success. Through exploration, counselors encourage out-of-the-box thinking, creativity, and new ways of learning. These activities expose students to previously unknown career options and possible futures. Serving as guides, mentors, facilitators, and cheerleaders, counselors move students toward endless possibilities for their futures.
School counselors engage students and facilitate activities that drive preparation and support development of critical skills in the areas of academics, careers, and personal success. Skills— such as problem-solving, time management, teamwork, prioritizing, and self-management— are taught early in elementary and continually reinforced and further developed through middle and high school. Counselors ensure that students are able to apply these skills through the lens of self-awareness and situational discernment.