Flagstaff counselor among national school counselor of the year finalists
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Flagstaff counselor among national school counselor of the year finalists

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  • Karin Eberhard/Flagstaff Unified School District

Katherine Pastor, A School Counselor At Flagstaff High School In Flagstaff, Ariz., Has Been Named The 2016 School Counselor Of The Year. Photo Courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

The American School Counselor Association  is pleased to announce the six finalists for the 2016 School Counselor of the Year awards program (#scoy16).

The award honors the professionals who devote their careers to serving as advocates for the nation’s students, helping them achieve success in school and in life.

Flagstaff counselor among national school counselor of the year finalists Katherine-Pastor

Katherine Pastor, school counselor at Flagstaff High School is among the finalists in the American School Counselor Association’s 2016 School Counselor of the Year awards program. Photo courtesy Flagstaff Unified School District

The six finalists are:

  • Durenda Johnson Ward, school counselor, Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Robert Lundien, school counselor and department chair, Staley High School, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Kris M. Owen, Ridgeview STEM Jr. High School, Pickerington, Ohio
  • Katherine Pastor, school counselor and department chair, Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff, Ariz.
  • Kim Reykdal, career and college counselor, Olympia High School, Olympia, Wash.
  • Samantha Vidal, school counselor, Creekside Elementary School, Franklin, Ind.

From these six finalists, one will be named the 2016 School Counselor of the Year.

Nominations for the School Counselor of the Year awards program were submitted by the state school counselor associations.

In November, Pastor and the other finalists will travel to Alexandria, Va., for an interview with the ASCA review committee.

“I am humbled and honored by the announcement of being a national finalist for School Counselor of the Year. I am proud to represent Arizona, Flagstaff Unified School District and Flagstaff High School as I go through this process,” Pastor said.

Pastor earned a Masters of Education in School Counseling and a Masters of Education in Student Affairs from Northern Arizona University and has been a counselor at Flagstaff High School since 2005.  In addition she has coached track and field, is the advisor for the FHS Student Council, the Link Leadership Program Coordinator and taught a graduate class at NAU.  In 2010 Ms. Pastor was named the AzSCA Secondary Counselor of the Year.

“Thomas Jefferson said, ‘Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. I believe passionately that school counselors are essential to the process that preserves our liberty,” Pastor said. “Though school budgets diminish, our importance expands in providing critical services to Arizona students.”

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders,” Pastor said. “Therefore, our future depends on our students being inspired to reach higher and I know that school counselors play an integral role in this process.”

In January, Flagstaff High School Principal Tony Cullen will accompany Pastor to Washington, D.C., where they will attend the black-tie gala where the award winner will be announced, and they will meet with First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony.

The School Counselor of the Year awards panel was composed of representatives from AASA: The School Superintendents Association; ACT; the College Board; the Hispanic Heritage Foundation; the National Association of College Admission Counseling; the National Association of Elementary School Principals; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; Operation Respect; and school counselors from Alamosa High School, Bishop O’Connell High School, Fairfax County Public Schools, J.W. Alvey Elementary School and Longfellow Middle School. The panel selected the finalists based on several criteria, including: school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership and advocacy skills and contributions to student advancement.

“School counselors make significant contributions to the overall well‐being of students and their success,” said Richard Wong, Ed.D., executive director, American School Counselor Association. “They have unique qualifications and skills that allow them to address students’ academic achievement, career development and social/emotional needs.”

The finalists, their principals and a representative from their state school counselor associations will travel to Washington, D.C., in January 2016 for three days of celebratory and educational events. The honorees will have meetings with their members of Congress, attend a congressional briefing, be honored in a ceremony at the White House and be formally recognized at a black‐tie gala.

About the American School Counselor Association

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) professional organization based in Alexandria, Va. ASCA promotes student success by expanding the image and influence of professional school counseling through leadership, advocacy, collaboration and systemic change. ASCA helps school counselors guide their students toward academic achievement, career planning and social/emotional development to help today’s students become tomorrow’s productive, contributing members of society. Founded in 1952, ASCA currently has a network of 50 state associations and a membership of approximately 30,000 school counseling professionals. For additional information on the American School Counselor Association, visit www.schoolcounselor.org.