Counselor of the Year: Jeff Ream

With a hyper focus on creating an academically rigorous and college-going school climate at North Tahoe High School, Jeff Ream moved his Title 1 school beyond all expectations within just a few years.  He is an enthusiastic advocate of all students, encouraging them to reach their highest potential and providing the tools, programs, and resources for that to happen. Building on the foundation of the ASCA National Model for a comprehensive school counseling program, Jeff is on the front lines of defense for addressing student academic, career and social/emotional issues. He is loved and respected by the students, staff, parents and school community and we are honored to name him the California Association of School Counselors (CASC) 2018 Donald G. Hays School Counselor of the Year.

Jeff’s advocacy and collaborative efforts with all stakeholders, including parents, district-level staff, board members and community agencies resulted in the addition of many programs and services to North Tahoe High School.  By focusing on targeted areas, he helped increase student A-G completion, FAFSA completion, SAT completion and AP participation and pass rates.
In two short years, and as the only counselor at his school, NTHS saw a 240% increase in individual students taking AP exams and a 390% increase in the total number of exams taken. A major advancement for the whole district came when Jeff partnered with district-level personnel to obtain a grant to purchase the “Naviance Family Connection” college and career computer planning tool for all district high school students. He continues to provide ongoing training and project management to help embed the program into the culture and district-wide vision to support 21st Century students and college/career readiness.  According to one grateful parent, “Mr. Ream has expanded the counselor role and is one of our school’s biggest assets.”

Jeff Ream contributes on a broader scale to students and to the profession of school counseling.  He is the Technology Chairperson for the California Association of School Counselors, and has been invited to present at several conferences around the United States, including CASC and ASCA. He is the writer, owner, and founder of The Counseling Geek, and has created an internationally recognized and award-winning blog for school counselors. He founded the School Counselor Community Scholarship to help fund school counselor access to high-quality professional development at ASCA, having so far supported 17 school counselors through his efforts.  In so many ways, Jeff exemplifies excellence in his daily work as a school counselor and acts thoughtfully as an advocate for his students and as a leader among his colleagues. The awards committee reviewed many fine candidates for this year’s SCOY recipient.  One very noteworthy candidate was Rachel Andrews. Her exceptional skills as a school counselor and strong leadership qualities definitely earmarked her as a strong contender for the award. As a state, we are fortunate to have so many outstanding school counselors taking care of our students.  It is our deepest honor to award Mr. Jeff Ream as the CASC 2018 Donald G. Hays School Counselor of the Year.


Counselor Educator of the Year: Dr. Suzy Thomas

Dr. Suzy Thomas is one of the foremost national and statewide educators and leaders in Action Research in the profession of school counseling.  She is an exceptional counselor educator, earning numerous distinctions for her work, and it is with great respect and admiration that she is the recipient of the 2017 CASC Counselor Educator of the Year Award.

 As a university professor, a school counselor, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, and advocate, consultant, and mentor to many, many students, Dr. Thomas has made significant contributions to the profession of school counseling and to the lives of those students she mentored and served.  Her innovative teaching practices, leadership, and extensive work in action research has substantially directed best practices in graduate-level teaching methods and student mentoring, while maintaining a continued focus on up-to-date educational trends as well as the ASCA tenets of leadership, advocacy, collaboration and systemic change.  
Over the years Dr. Thomas has accumulated a number of honors and awards, including the 2013-2014 Faculty Service Award from Saint Mary’s College of California, the H.B. McDaniel Hall of Fame Award, the 2013 Top Education Professors in California, the WACES Outstanding Mentor Award, and the 2007-2008 CASC School Counselor Advocate Award, just to name a few.  Dr. Thomas has a long history of promoting the profession of school counseling and actively advocated for the passage of AB 1802, leading the efforts in Northern California during the implementation phase.  Dr. Thomas’s service to the professional community is extensive and reflects the values and ideals of a consummate counselor educator.  She currently serves as an Advisory Board Member for College Advising and Career Planning for U.C. Berkeley, is the Conference Co-Chair of the Northern California CASC/H.B. McDaniel Foundation, the CASC Research Committee Chair, a Board Member and Chair of the H.B. McDaniel Scholarship Subcommittee and Working Group Consultant for Action Research Network of the Americas.  While highly regarded by the professional community, Dr. Thomas’s legacy is best summarized by a former, grateful graduate student:

“Suzy doesn’t just teach, she inspires her students to be the best version of themselves.  Her students feel and know how much she respects and values each of them.  She does this because, like any great teacher, she learns from her students too…Suzy makes the world a better place.  She is caring, brilliant, motivating, kind, trustworthy and all around, the best there is.”

Administrator of the Year: Susan Boyd

Susan R. Boyd received her administrative services credential as well as her pupil personnel services credential at Azusa Pacific University.  She has been a teacher, school counselor, assistant principal, and is currently principal at Norte Vista High School.

Hired as principal in 2010, Ms. Boyd was charged with the daunting task of spearheading a “Turn Around Model” developed in order to counteract years of underwhelming academic performance at NVHS.  As her nominator explains, she has taken her school from an “unsafe and low academic-performing campus to one where all students want to learn, get involved in extracurricular activities, and serve the community.”  Some of the programs instituted under Ms. Boyd’s leadership include: College and Career Readiness Wednesdays and Reach Higher Thursdays. And she held a DREAMers forum along with Congressman Takano at NVHS to address the concerns of DACA being cut, assuring students that her school is a safe place where all students are supported.

As a former counselor, she is very cognizant of the need for school counselors and supports hers in any way she can.  She, like her entire staff, simply do what is best for students.

One student in particular, who wrote a very moving letter of recommendation, said, “I can honestly state that if it were not for Ms. Boyd’s counseling, leadership, kindness, and motivation that I would not be in the same place I am today, but probably dead or in prison.”  “One person took a shot on believing in a kid,” and this “kid” is a counselor today!

Susan Boyd is clearly deserving of CASC’s Administrator of the Year Award and we look forward to honoring her at the CASC Conference on Monday, October 23.

Advocate of the Year: Jose Medina

Assembly member Jose Medina begins his third term in the Assembly continuing his appointment as chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. Mr. Medina feels that an educated workforce is crucial to the success of California. Current and past chairmanship positions include, chair of the Assembly Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee, chair of the California-Mexico Bi-National Affairs Select Committee, preserving California’s businesses and partnerships.

Medina was first elected to the California State Assembly in 2012, he represents California's 61st Assembly District, which consists of Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris and Mead Valley. During his first term in the Assembly, Medina led the effort to ensure the University of California, Riverside Medical School received $15 million of full and continuous funding through the state budget, to train students for crucial jobs in the health-care industry. Possibly: During his first term in the Assembly, Medina led the effort to ensure the University of California, Riverside Medical School received $15 million of full and continuous funding through the state budget.

This funding provides student training for crucial jobs in the health-care industry. In turn, those jobs will strengthen the region’s economy, as well as improve health care accessibility in the Inland Empire.

Medina brings to the legislature a lifetime of experience in education from his many years as a teacher with the Riverside Unified School District, serving as a member of the Riverside City Teachers Association, and a representative to the state council of the California Teachers Association (CTA). Mr. Medina is an educator at heart and understands the role teachers and School Counselors play in our students lives. Mr. Medina made history this year at the states capital when he became the first elected official to make a motion on the assembly floor and proclamate National School Counseling Week. This had not been done since the statehood of California in 1850. Possibly: This is the first time that a proclamation was made on the assembly floor about recognizing School Counselors since California became a state in 1850. For this, and many reasons more Mr. Medina is deserving of the Legislator of the Year Award.