School Counselors Recognized by GSCA

CCSD school counselors win awards from the Georgia School Counselor Association.

Members of the Cobb County School District school counseling family won in four categories for being leaders, advocates, collaborators, and change agents.

The Georgia School Counselor Association (GSCA) recently shared their award winners for the 2021 school year. Members of the Cobb County School District school counseling family won in four categories for being leaders, advocates, collaborators, and change agents.  The award recipients will be recognized at the virtual GSCA Conference at the end of the month.  Join us in celebrating their accomplishments.

Our first award winner is Dr. Mandy Ruddell, a veteran school counselor with over 25 years of experience in education. Dr. Ruddell works at Ford Elementary School and was named School Counselor of the Year Semi-Finalist.  One of her former students shared that you can “immediately recognize her for her big heart, bubbly personality, and beautiful perspective on life.”  The student also shared, “she is truly a light in this world, and my community is a better place with her in it.”  Dr. Ruddell’s former Principal and current Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Jami Frost, wrote, “more important than her years of experience is her ability to relate to students; Her caring attitude and superior knowledge of school counseling and comprehensive counseling programs make her effective with all students.”  Dr. Ruddell utilizes data to drive and evaluate her programs and uses empathy and compassion to connect with each and every one of her students.

The next award winner is Dr. Mirna Wynn, from Hillgrove High School.  Recognized for her contributions and growing leadership within the profession, Dr. Wynn was named the GSCA Emerging Leader for this school year.  Dr. Wynn offers a safe place for all students in her building and she is known for her welcoming smile.  Her fellow school counselor, Myesha Davis, shared, “Mirna’s tireless efforts to be the voice of and support for the Spanish-speaking families at our school is humbling to experience.”  One innovative intervention Dr. Wynn implemented was the Feria Universitaria, a college fair for the Latinx community, with the purpose of providing Spanish-speaking parents an opportunity to meet with college admission representatives and interact with them in their native language.  As an advocate for undocumented students, Dr. Wynn has presented locally, at the state level, and even nationally on best practices for school counselors working with this special student population.  Dr. Wynn serves as a role model to her peers through her actions and leadership.

Nominated by a group of her CCSD peers, Lisa King, school counselor at Blackwell Elementary School, has been named the GSCA Writer of the Year.  Ms. King, the author of now seven books, uses her talents and time to help improve the counseling profession.  In addition to her resource books, that make big concepts, like college- and career-readiness and growth mindset, accessible for school counselors to implement in their schools, she also recently wrote her first children’s book, Be Your Own Hero.  Her co-counselor at Blackwell, Shannon Scepaniak, wrote, “readers of Lisa’s book will be inspired to find the everyday hero inside themselves and will learn that you don’t have to be famous to do great things.”  Her nominators also shared that Ms. King demonstrates passion for improving the lives of kids in everything that she does and her writing is a real-life example of how she demonstrates grit and perseverance.  The work that Ms. King does allows every school counselor to be even better at their job and her books are an essential resource to every school counselor’s library.

The final award winner is Laurel Gross from Walton High School.  Nominated by the Walton High School Counseling Department, Ms. Gross has been named GSCA Advocate of the Year.  The counselors share that as the college advisor for Walton, Ms. Gross is “a master of handling every situation that comes up, from assisting us as we organize, plan, and implement both Freshman and Junior Advisement for our families, to working with a student whose ‘dream’ school is not a reality; She can turn that ‘dream’ school into a new dream and never make the student feel badly about themselves.”  The counseling team at Walton feel that the addition of Ms. Gross to their team has truly brought them together and rise to a higher level of service to their students, families, and community.  Her positivity and dedication are infectious and motivate all of them to do their best.  Ms. Gross is an advocate for the entire Walton community; the counselors shared, “when anyone walks in her door, be it the Principal or a freshman, she will stop whatever she is doing and give her undivided attention to that person; You are her priority and she makes you feel important.  She advocates for each of us and for everyone.”

Congratulations to all of our GSCA award winners from CCSD.  Thank you for all that you do for our students, staff members, families, and communities across the District.

Alexandra Huguelet, School Counseling Consultant
School Counseling

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