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GOOD NEWS FROM SCHOOLS: Gwinnett County sweeps counseling awards

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

The dedication Gwinnett County Public Schools counseling professionals have to making sure that students succeed academically was evident to judges during the Georgia School Counselor Association Region 2 Awards.

The organization recently announced that five Gwinnett counseling professionals received a Region 2 award, meaning that the school district earned every award in each category available.

This year's Georgia School Counselor Association Region 2 Award winners are:

* Dana Edwards, Grayson Elementary, 2010 Region 2 Elementary School Counselor of the Year

* Kelly Flower, Five Forks Middle, 2010 Region 2 Middle School Counselor of the Year

* Leslie Harper, Collins Hill High, 2010 Region 2 Secondary School Counselor of the Year

* Joe Ahrens, principal of Arcado Elementary, 2010 Region 2 Counseling Advocate of the Year

* Karen Griffith, Berkeley Lake Elementary, 2010 Region 2 Counselor Writer of the Year.

Before being named Region 2 winners, these professionals were recognized in February by the school system as the Gwinnett County honorees. They will now move on to compete at the state level.

Gwinnett County counselors are consistently among the most recognized in the United States in state and national honors. In 2009, three Gwinnett educators were named state winners.

Gwinnett's DeWaay honored for social work

A veteran Gwinnett County Public Schools social worker was recently presented with a prestigious award in the school social work field, the Elsie Nesbit Trailblazer Award.

Linda DeWaay, who has served Gwinnett students and their families for more than two decades, received the award during the School Social Worker Association of Georgia state conference.

The award is named in honor of Elsie Nesbit, an educator who was a pioneer in the field of school social work. The award is not presented every year. An individual school social worker earns it when he or she is nominated for making significant contributions to children, families, the community and the school social work profession.

Since joining Gwinnett County Public Schools in 1989, DeWaay has provided school social work services to over six different clusters. Currently, she supports the staff, students and families in the Dacula cluster, as well as one school in the Collins Hill cluster (McKendree Elementary) and one school in the Mountain View cluster (Freeman's Mill Elementary).

She has helped develop two different crisis manuals and served on the steering committee for Gwinnett Court Appointed Special Advocate. She currently serves on the Gwinnett County Child Fatality Review and the Gwinnett County Child Abuse Protocol Committees, where she recently helped develop an inter-agency suicide protocol. She has been a member of the Gwinnett County Attendance Protocol Committee since its inception.

In addition to the support she provides to Gwinnett students and their families, DeWaay also supports her professional community. She has supervised several school social work interns from the University of Georgia and served on the School Social Worker Association of Georgia executive board for almost 10 years. In 2001, she was named the Ninth District School Social Worker of the Year.

DeWaay is a licensed clinical social worker and certified school social work specialist. She received her bachelor's degree in human services from the University of Tennessee and her master's degree in social work from the University of Georgia.

Her two children attended and graduated from the Berkmar cluster.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.