How do counselors get to Washington? Service, service, service!

Cobb County Counselors were celebrated and honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at a special ceremony and reception for the finalists and semifinalists for the 2015 American School Counselor Association (ASCA) School Counselor of the Year. Julia Richardson from Campbell High School in Smyrna was a top 16 semifinalist and one of 40 counselors honored at the White House. Julia, in pink, is seen in the photo (above) directly behind the First Lady and actor Connie Britton who also attended the ceremony.

L-R: Dr. Julie Hartline, Julia Richardson, Nicole Weber

Dr. Julie Hartline, CCSD School Counseling and Advisement Consultant and Georgia School Counselor Association (GSCA) President was the 2009 ASCA School Counselor of the Year. She and Nicole Weber, School Counselor at Nickajack ES and the 2012 ASCA School Counselor of the Year, were invited to the event as past winners and were there to cheer Richardson on. The three counselors were able to enjoy a couple of days of exploring Washington and the White House, complete with a ceremony with the First Lady, a celebratory brunch and a black tie gala.

L-R: Julia Richardson, Dorothy Richardson

Julia was excited to bring her mom, Dorothy Richardson of Clarksville, Tennessee. The two stand proudly (See photo, left) in front of a banner recognizing the title of Counselor of the Year, and the exemplary work done by Richardson and her colleagues to qualify for such a prestigious honor.

A group photograph captured all of the Georgia representatives that attended the White House celebration. We celebrate with counseling colleagues in nearby districts, too: Jennifer Diaz from Gwinnett was one of the top five finalists and Andrea Hodgins also from Gwinnett was in the top 16 as well. Congratulations!

This is the first time that the First Lady and the White House have recognized the School Counselor of the Year. The First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative includes school counselors as a key component in helping students to become ready for higher learning.

L-R: Dr. Julie Hartline, Dorothy Richardson, Julia Richardson

“Our school counselors are the key to achieving that goal, but only if we give them the support, recognition and resources they need to do their jobs,” which is why the White House is now honoring the counselors, according to First Lady Obama in an online column for USA Today (see below for link).

She also says in the article that school counselors, especially those at the high school level (like CCSD’s Richardson) are the key piece to ensuring students have the support they need to graduate and make a pathway toward a productive and successful life.

Click here to read the First Lady’s guest column in USA Today.