0

Gwinnett school district honors counselors of year

The award recipients of this year’s annual counselor recognition ceremony for Gwinnett County Public Schools are Twin Rivers Middle School Principal Linda Boyd, far left, the advocate of the year, and recipients by grade level, from left, Stacey Miller of Roberts Elementary, Rasheedra Nelson of Collins Hill High and Andrea Antwine of Couch Middle. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

The award recipients of this year’s annual counselor recognition ceremony for Gwinnett County Public Schools are Twin Rivers Middle School Principal Linda Boyd, far left, the advocate of the year, and recipients by grade level, from left, Stacey Miller of Roberts Elementary, Rasheedra Nelson of Collins Hill High and Andrea Antwine of Couch Middle. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

photo

Rasheedra Nelson of Collins Hill High, left, and Andrea Antwine of Couch Middle received Counselor of the Year awards for their respective grade level at a ceremony on Friday morning at the Gwinnett County Public Schools district office in Suwanee. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

photo

Stacey Miller of Roberts Elementary, a Counselor of the Year award recipient, shakes hands with CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks at a ceremony on Friday morning at the Gwinnett County Public Schools district office in Suwanee. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)

SUWANEE — Keith Urban didn’t make an appearance at the annual award ceremony to honor Gwinnett County Public Schools’ counselors of the year on Friday morning. But one of his songs was modified to honor this year’s Advocate of the Year.

With a guitar, banjo and mandolin, members of the counseling department at Twin Rivers Middle performed a music video in a tribute to their principal, Linda Boyd, who was initially caught off guard by the performance played in front of the district’s 350 counselors, administrators and senior staff.

“It’s one of the most special moments I’ve had as an educator,” said Boyd, who also wondered how her counselors kept it a secret from her as they filmed it entirely in and around the school. “I had absolutely no idea.”

In the video of the hit song, “Somebody like you,” Urban’s original lyrics, “I want to love somebody, love somebody like you,” were replaced with the line, “We want to work for somebody, work for somebody like you.”

“We had some help making sure she was unaware,” said Twin Rivers Counselor Heather Haynes, who credited her colleague, Jennifer Moore, as the creative mastermind, and John Hitchcock with technical assistance.

Counselor Kelly Flower said it helps their jobs to have someone with integrity in a leadership position.

“She values what we do, and she’s all about student relationships,” Flower said.

Once Boyd watched the video, everything made sense.

“To do something in a unique and innovative way is truly them,” Boyd said.

Boyd was among several award recipients honored on Friday morning at an annual breakfast at the district office. Stacey Miller of Roberts Elementary, Andrea Antwine of Couch Middle and Rasheedra Nelson of Collins Hill High were awarded Counselor of the Year honors at their respective grade level.

“Your job, what you do for everybody is central to our job as a school system and what students become in life,” Board of Education Chairman Dan Seckinger said. “The connections you make on behalf of your students as well as the connections you make inside your students often go unnoticed. I want to thank you and acknowledge your work.”

Collins Hill High Principal Kerensa Wing was among a parade of speakers who applauded the work of counselors.

“We call on you,” Wing said. “Whether it’s an angry parent, authorities showing up at our door, or if we need someone to graduate in four years. And it’s May.”

The district also unveiled a new award called the the 21st Century Comprehensive Counseling Award. This award recognizes outstanding, innovative programs that show evidence of counseling program advocacy and goals that use data to guide program design, delivery, and evaluation. It was given to the counseling departments at Ferguson Elementary, Couch Middle and Lanier Middle.

The four individual winners will compete at the regional, state, and national levels, and have a high bar to follow one of last year’s winners, Robin Zorn of Mason Elementary. Zorn recently traveled to Washington to be honored as this year’s national School Counselor of the Year, while Jennifer Diaz of White Oak Elementary was the 2013 Georgia School Counselor of the Year.