Kathy (Rapkin) Pelzer, 2017 School Counselor of the Year

Great leaders instill hope and inspire others to believe that they are unique and can make a difference in this world. Kathy Pelzer is exactly that kind of leader and we are honored to name her the California Association of School Counselors (CASC) 2017 Donald G. Hays Outstanding School Counselor of the Year.  Kathy has an extensive and impressive history as a school counselor leader, not just in the state of California but also nationally. She began her career in education as a teacher and transitioned to school counseling with ease. She holds both teaching and counseling credentials, and also a License and Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.  Throughout her career she has advocated for school counselors in California through involvement in CASC, both at the state and national level. She traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senators Boxer and Feinstein regarding school counselors. She was part of the Public Policy Institute through the American School Counselors Association (ASCA). She served CASC as the Southern California Area Representative, CASC President Elect, CASC President, and CASC Past President. During her tenure with CASC she wrote numerous publications, conducted trainings, and consulted with districts and school administrations which culminated with the passing of Assembly Bill 1802.  (This important bill allocated two hundred million dollars for California school counselors.)  She was a member of the Los Angeles County Office of Education Guidance Advisory Committee, a member of the advisory committee for the California Standards for the School Counseling Profession, a co-chair for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Team in Arcadia, and President of the Arcadia Pupil Support Services Association. These are just some examples of the tremendous work and advocacy Kathy has done for school counselors in California.  Most importantly, she is a phenomenal school counselor, implementing an innovative, data driven school counseling program based on the ASCA National Model in all schools she has served. Kathy is a member of the Capistrano Valley High School Leadership Team, and served last year on the district’s Counselor Advisory Team, As quoted by a parent in her letter of recommendation for this award, Kathy has been an “amazing support for my daughter” and possesses “unending patience and empathy,” Kathy is  a consummate professional who believes that school counselors are those best prepared and educated to develop programs that meet the personal, academic and career/college needs of the students they serve. She is to be commended for her passion and dedication to the profession of school counseling over the past 22 years. 
Lifetime Achievement Award
Drs. Sharon and Clarence D. (Curly) Johnson

Drs. Sharon and Clarence D. (Curly) Johnson are giants in the field of school counseling and have been significant in the profession for over 50 years.  It is very fitting that they receive the CASC Lifetime Achievement Award. Both started their educational journeys as teachers - Sherri in elementary school and Curly in high school.  University teaching led them to create “Johnsons and Associates,” an educational and consulting firm that continues to provide staff development for professionals.  One nationally known professional in the field comments on their “selflessness in sharing their work, time and talent.”  In fact, their work was part of the basis for the ASCA National Model for School Counseling programs.
For over 20 years, the Johnsons consulted internationally on almost every military base in Europe and Asia that had schools, training counselors on those bases and setting up programs.  They trained parents and counselors alike in the FAST program (Families and Students Together) that they developed.  This program is used to this day in schools helping at-risk students and their parents. They have been consultants to more than 225 different educational agencies, industry, professional and service organizations in the areas of accountability, career education, career development, group processes, evaluation, managing others, Learning-teaching styles, family-school partnerships, at-risk students and at-risk employees, program development and evaluation, competency-based guidance and instruction, communication skills, strategic planning and leadership.  
For them, the question is not what do school counselors do, but what can students do because they have a school counselor?  It’s all about results.  The hope for the future is that the profession we love continues to move in the right direction for all kids until each has a school counselor who gets results. Those who know Sherri and Curly will say they are an “inspiration both personally and professionally.”  Both are founding members of CASC and have received awards and honors too numerous to mention.  They are the authors of countless books and journal articles and provide their expertise without cost to leaders in the field as well as counselors in schools.  The field of school counseling is better because these two pioneering giants have devoted their professional lives to it and CASC is very proud to honor them with our Lifetime Achievement Award.
Trish Hatch, Ph.D., Counselor Educator of the Year

We cannot think of anyone more deserving of the inaugural CASC Counselor Educator of the Year Award than Dr. Trish Hatch.  A founding member of CASC, she continues to provide meaningful workshops at CASC conferences and, in fact, has presented over 100 times at professional conferences and trainings for school districts nationwide to spread her passion for data-driven school counseling and working to close the achievement gap.  Trish has also coordinated multiple conferences to address the needs of marginalized students. Dr. Hatch is a Professor at San Diego State University, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCaL) as well as President and CEO of Hatching Results, LLC. She is the best-selling author of The Use of Data in School Counseling:  Hatching Results for Students, Programs, and the Profession (2014).  In addition, she has over fifty publications and is co-author of the ASCA National Model:  A Framework for School Counseling Programs (ASCA, 2003; 2005). A member of the National Consortium for School Counseling and Postsecondary Success (NCSCPS), Trish has helped advise the White House and Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative about the role of school counselors. She is an advocate, advisor, and natural leader who continually mentors students who reach out to her for advice.  Her lifelong work attests to the importance she has placed on collaborative work and the value she holds in creating system change and partnerships to create quality school counselor preparation programs. One of her former students said: “Words truly cannot express the positive and profound impact that Dr. Trish Hatch has had, not only on my life, but the countless students, families, districts, and the field of school counseling as well.”  CASC is proud to honor Dr. Trish Hatch for our inaugural Counselor Educator of the Year Award.
Karen Kirschinger, Ed.D., Administrator of the Year

Karen Kirschinger received her Doctorate in Education and Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne and is currently the middle school principal at North Mountain Middle School (NMMS) in the San Jacinto Unified School District. Karen has been instrumental in supporting, and also reshaping, the school counseling program at her school. Before the district was trained in the ASCA national model, counselors were generally reactive, only working with 5% of the total student population, and delivering few curriculum lessons. They now spend 90% of their time providing direct counseling services to students. Counselors at NMMS take active leadership roles in the school, and this has changed the perception of how school counselors are viewed by teachers, support staff, students and parents. She has shown leadership at the district level by educating colleagues about the role of today's school counselor and by using school counselor-generated data to drive programs and make informed decisions to ensure student academic success. Karen "leads other administrators in conversations about school counselors' use of time, non-counseling duties and use of data to effect systemic change." Dr. Kirschinger is clearly deserving of CASC's Administrator of the Year Award.

Dean Lesicko, Advocate of the Year

Dean Lesicko has been involved in school counseling for over 30 years!  He started as a professional school counselor in Temecula in 1985 and has been Coordinator of Student Support Services at Murrieta Valley Unified School District since 2005.  Along the way he has been an adjunct professor at several universities and also was CASC president in 2010-11.  His workshops at CASC conferences continue to impact those outside his own district and inspire others with their focus on data-driven initiatives, their high level of collaboration, and their passion for doing whatever it takes to meet all students’ needs. Dean has developed, implemented, and directed two successful and innovative district-wide programs originally funded through federal and state grants.  [Both programs were sustained beyond original project funding.]  He has secured $2.7 million in project funding!  As one counselor put it, “Our programs would not be as strong as they are today without the drive of Dean Lesicko, who continuously looks for ways to help and support more families.” We salute Dean for his dedication to the profession with the CASC Advocate of the Year Award.

Lorinda Ordaz, Advocate of the Year

Lorinda Ordaz is a worthy recipient of CASC’s Advocate of the Year Award.  As Program Specialist over Alternative Programs and Counseling for the San Bernardino City Unified School District, Lorinda has, among other things, obtained district-wide Recognized ASCA National Model (RAMP) training for all 130 counselors in the district.  As a former elementary school teacher and middle school counselor, Lorinda understands how important school counselors are to the total educational program.  She works tirelessly to continually strengthen the counseling program in SBCUSD and most recently incorporated a district-wide school counseling advisory committee. She has aligned her district’s K-12 counseling program to the ASCA National Model and created a system based on the ASCA Mindsets and the CASC standards, aligning to District priorities in the LCAP and strategic plan. So often school counselors are left out of the professional development cycle, not included in beginning of the year teacher preparation days, and are the last remembered for professional development budgets.  Lorinda has led initiatives to ensure counselor recognition in her District. Lorinda Ordaz is a “true professional and her love for the students and the counseling profession is evident in everything she does.”  CASC is proud to honor her with its Advocate of the Year Award.