Three Gwinnett County Public Schools educators started the school year designated as Georgia's top counseling professionals.
The Georgia School Counselors Association recently named Creekland Middle school counselor Maria Grovner as the 2009 Georgia Middle School Counselor of the Year, Jones Middle School principal Richard Holland as the 2009 Georgia Counseling Advocate of the Year and Yuehong "Maria" Chen Foley of Cedar Hill Elementary as the 2009 Georgia Counselor Writer of the Year.
Committed to the well-being and success of all students, Grovner is known on the Creekland Middle campus as an advocate.
"When you look at our counseling activities, it is obvious that Maria works to support students academically, emotionally and socially," Creekland principal Bill Kruskamp said.
One of the programs Grovner coordinates is the Think College Early Program (TCE), a Creekland Middle initiative designed to increase college awareness among middle school students. The program includes a college fair on campus, parent workshops and campus tours of colleges and universities.
Rising Creekland Middle sixth-graders have a smooth transition from elementary school to middle school thanks to the school's Summer Acceleration Camp, and sixth-grade girls learn about how to be the best they can be through the Girl Power program, all coordinated by Grovner.
"Middle school students have unique developmental needs, and they can benefit from family support and family engagement in their education," Grovner said. "As a school counselor, I have made concerted efforts to reach out to parents and guardians."
At Jones Middle, the advisement and counseling team described Holland as a "collaborative leader who brings out the best in every individual."
The school counselors attribute their success to Holland's support.
"Dr. Holland has an unconditional regard for his students; he is a counselor by heart, and an advocate for children," the counselors said.
When students requested a music club, the principal created Dr. Holland's guitar club, taking the time to play music with his students. He also developed a Student Leadership Academy, where he teams up with high school students to teach leadership skills to middle school students.
The school's counselors also thank him for the administrative decisions he has made that benefit the school as whole, such as assigning a school counselor to each grade level and adding a registrar to the school's advisement and counseling department.
"His school's guidance and counseling program is the ideal prototype of the success a guidance and counseling program can achieve with superior advocacy and leadership," the counselors said.
Chen Foley is recognized for an article she co-published in the 2008 issue of the Georgia School Counselors Association Journal. The article was titled "Interpreting Children's Human Figure Drawings: Basic Guidelines for School Counselors."
All three Gwinnett honorees will be formally recognized in November at the organization's annual conference in Atlanta.
Just one hour a week makes a big difference in the life of a child.
Louise Radloff Middle School is seeking mentors to assist students in either reading or math.
Several time slots are available. To set up a training time, call Pam Webb-Stewart at 678-245-3453.
Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post. For more good news, visit www.gwinnettdailypost.com on Monday.