Jennifer Diaz, left, and Andrea Hodgin were recently honored by the Georgia School Counselors Association. Diaz was named Georgia School Counselor of the Year, while Hodgin was named a Georgia School Counselor semifinalist. Diaz is a counselor at White Oak Elementary, while Hodgin is a counselor at Lanier Middle. (Special Photo)
Gwinnett’s Elementary School Counselor of the Year recently was honored as the statewide Counselor of the Year. It’s the second straight year a GCPS counselor was honored with the award.
White Oak Elementary’s Jennifer Diaz, who has worked in Gwinnett County Public Schools since 2002, was honored with the statewide accolade by the Georgia School Counselors Association.
“She takes such initiative and has a positive impact on everyone she meets,” Ginny Wages, a school counselor at Ferguson Elementary who nominated Diaz for the honor, said in a press release.
But Diaz wasn’t the only Gwinnett counselor recognized. Andrea Hodgin of Lanier Middle was named a Georgia School Counselor semifinalist.
Earlier this year, Diaz and Hodgin were honored by the district at their respective school levels. The GSCA will officially recognize Diaz and Hodgin with their awards during the annual state conference on Nov. 13-15 at Jekyll Island.
Last school year, Robin Zorn of Mason Elementary won the inaugural award.
Before White Oak, Diaz worked at Nesbit Elementary (2002-2004) and Peachtree Elementary (2004-2009). Diaz and Hodgin worked together at Peachtree where Diaz served as an intervention counselor.
“In this innovative role, Jennifer provided intensive play therapy and specific interventions for children who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to receive these crucial counseling services,” Wages said.
Diaz leads White Oak’s RAMP designation, which is awarded to schools that meet criteria set by the American School Counselors Association, and recognizes schools committed to a comprehensive and data-driven school counseling program. Diaz also helped the school be awarded a No Place For Hate designation from the Anti-Defamation League that helps schools prevent bullying and prejudice.
Hodgin joined GCPS in 2008, and is credited with reducing her school’s discipline referral rate by 42 percent overall, and specifically 20 percent of male students who had three referrals the previous school year.
Hodgin created a program that featured small group intervention that addressed resiliency and prosocial skills and an accountability partnership where students were paired and met weekly to discuss discipline issues.
“Good counselors are hard to come by. Great counselors are a rarity,” Principal Jaime Espinosa said. “Andrea Hodgin is a great counselor and her work here at Lanier has not gone unnoticed and has certainly been appreciated.”
Foundation partners deliver back-to-school support
Several Gwinnett schools recently received support from partners of the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation. A school supply drive directed by Atlanta Falcon Sean Weatherspoon’s Spoonful of Hope Foundation helped Bethesda Elementary and Woodward Mill Elementary partner with Carter’s Stores at Sugarloaf Mills and the Mall of Georgia.
The foundation also partnered Jenkins Elementary and Winn Holt Elementary schools with the Oshkosh Store at the Mall of Georgia. The retail stores collected school supplies for all four schools.
Radio station Star 94 delivered school supplies to Sycamore Elementary.
Several hundred backpacks with supplies were donated by United Stationers of Suwanee and Variety-The Children’s Charity of Georgia. Schools that received these age-appropriate backpacks were Anderson-Livsey Elementary, Kanoheda Elementary, Nesbit Elementary, Rockbridge Elementary, Lilburn Middle, Radloff Middle, and Meadowcreek High.
“It is so important that the year start off in a positive way,” Chase Evangeline Andrews, executive director of Variety-The Children’s Charity of Georgia said in a press release.
Big Lots stores of Gwinnett, through the Lots to Give program, collected on behalf of Britt Elementary, Chesney Elementary, and Central Gwinnett High.
The Norcross Cluster Schools Partnership, a fund of the GCPS Foundation, collected more than 10,000 school supply items for its annual Stuff the Bus Campaign which benefitted Beaver Ridge Elementary, Norcross Elementary, Peachtree Elementary, Simpson Elementary, Pinckneyville Middle and Summerour Middle.
Shiloh High student wins sweepstakes
Anand Shah, a 17-year-old from Snellville, was awarded $10,529 for college savings plans as a winners of the statewide Path2College 529 Plan’s 10,000 Reasons to Save Sweepstakes. Shiloh High School, Shah’s school, was also awarded $10,529.
“Education is the best gift you can give your child. It lasts a lifetime,” Anand’s father Bharat Shah said in a press release. “I hope people will start saving as early as possible, and contribute as much as possible every year.”
Anand is interested in pre-med and hopes to eventually complete his medical degree and master’s of business administration degree.
“We are very proud of Anand and his relentless pursuit of obtaining a post-secondary education,” Durrant Williams the Associate Principal at Shiloh said in a press release.
The school plans to use the money to enhance its academic programs for all students.
Duluth High of Region 7-AAAAAA and Shiloh High of Region 8-AAAAAA were among the 48 Georgia High School Association-member high schools awarded the 2013 Cooperative Spirit Sportsmanship Award. The award honors schools that demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship during the 2012-2013 school year and support the GHSA philosophy of respect, fairness, honesty, and responsibility. Schools around the state are honored for exhibiting exceptional sportsmanship during competitive events.
GCPS’ Community-Based Mentoring Program invites the public to participate in the fourth annual golf tournament that benefits the Gwinnett County Public Schools Community-Based Mentoring Program. The tournament will be held on
Oct. 21 at The Château Course at the Château Élan Golf Club at 6060 Golf Club Drive in Braselton. October 15 is the entry deadline. Sign-in begins at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. Registration is $100 per individual and $400 per foursome which includes the tournament entry, breakfast, entry in the hole-in-one contest, entry in the longest drive contest and an awards luncheon. For more information or to register online, visit www.gcps-foundation.org.
Keith Farner writes about education. Good News from Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Daily Post.