Josh Godinez, 2019 California School Counselor of the Year

Josh Godinez, a high school counselor at Centennial High School in Corona-Norco Unified School District, is the 2019 California School Counselor of the Year. This tribute is annually bestowed on only one individual. It is a time when we as a profession recognize outstanding accomplishments and excellence in the field of school counseling in California. Recipients are judged on creative school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership skills and contributions to student advancement. The CASC Awards Committee reviewed a large number of highly-qualified submissions this year. What was exceptional about Mr. Godinez’s submission was the large number of advancements made in creating infrastructures and comprehensive school counseling programs, as well as his work in school counseling advocacy at the local, county and at the state level. Josh is most proud of how he, along with two other school counselors, raised Centennial High’s FAFSA submission rate to 76%.  Likewise, in Fontana USD, Josh was instrumental in developing a data informed school counseling program.  In Fontana, Josh served as the head counselor and was instrumental in the Class of 2016 substantially increasing FAFSA submission rates to 67%.   Dr. Vernell Deslonde, Director of College and Career Readiness in Fontana USD, commented “I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award. Josh Godinez is a remarkable leader who has a keen understanding of systems and processes and has a proclivity for leading and providing quality, student-centered programming.”
Josh Godinez is currently on the Board of Directors for California Association of School Counselors where his advocacy for the school counseling profession shines. He is actively involved in the CASC Policy, Advocacy, and Legislative Committee where he champions school counseling issues in Sacramento. He also has lectured and serve as an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University.  Before becoming a school counselor, Josh spent nearly a decade as a high school social studies teacher and Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) mentor. As the California School Counselor of the Year, Josh will be eligible to compete for the national School Counselor of the Year in 2019. It is a great pleasure to present Mr. Godinez as the Donald G. Hays School Counselor of the Year!
Dr. Paul De Sena, 2018 Counselor Educator of the Year

Dr. Paul De Sena is receiving CASC’s Counselor Educator of the Year for 2018 because of his well-established, prominent record of excellent teaching, mentoring, scholarship, and service as professor and counselor educator at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and in his extended commitment to advocating for school counselors at the local, state, regional, national, and international level. Dr. De Sena is a professor and former Chairperson of the School of Education and Director of the Counselor Education Program at Loyola Marymount University where he has taught for over 52 years. He has taught thousands of graduate students who have become committed school counselors influencing the lives of students at all school levels. Over the years, Dr. De Sena has received numerous awards from several prestigious professional organizations including awards for individual achievement, distinguished service, and outstanding mentorship and advocacy. He has been inducted into the H.B. McDaniel Foundation’s Hall of Fame, recipient of the CASC Counselor Advocate of the Year Award, WACES Outstanding Service and Mentor Award, and the Loyola Marymount University Excellence in Service Award to name a few.  He is the past President of the California Association for Specialists in Group Work and the California Association of Counselor Educators and Supervisors. Dr. De Sena has served on the CASC Board of Directors and has presented papers and workshops at international, national and state conferences. Paul embodies the tenets of counselor education and models for his students and colleagues how to sustain a lasting, healthy, balanced career and foster meaningful connections with others at every stage of their careers.
Judy Flores, 2018 Administrator of the Year

Judy Flores is receiving CASC’s Administrator of the Year Award for 2018 because of her remarkable and successful efforts to create countywide student support service infrastructures, which have resulted in measurable comprehensive school counseling programs emerging throughout Shasta County.  Ms. Flores is in her 33rd year in education and is in her second year as the Shasta County Superintendent of Schools.  For 10 years, she was the Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services for the Shasta County Office of Education. Ms. Flores’ leadership to advance school counseling started with organizing a large-scale collaborative to study school counseling practices and student outcome data.  From there she brought together key stakeholders throughout Shasta County to utilize College Readiness Block Grant funds to develop comprehensive school counseling programs countywide. The positive outcomes from this effort are extensive.  Records show there was an Increase of 29.7% in the FAFSA completion rates and an increase of 5.9% in A-G eligibility (41.2%). Judy is the mother of three:  her two daughters have graduated from college and her son is currently a senior in college. It was as her children moved into high school that she more fully understood the key role counselors play in students’ lives. She could envision a countywide system where all students and their families would have access to the same information to help them with the knowledge and skills necessary for thinking about how their interests and abilities could align toward careers. CASC acknowledges the vision and exceptional efforts of Mrs. Flores for her own district and setting an example for other county Superintendents as well.
Tony Thurmond, 2018 Legislator of the Year

This year, Assemblymember Tony Thurmond will receive the distinguished California Legislator of the Year Award for 2018. Assemblymember Thurmond has had a career in social work and is the first social worker to run for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He is receiving this award because he has championed many causes on behalf of the vital services performed by professional school counselors and he has made significant progress in improving the educational system for ALL children in California.  For example, Mr. Thurmond was successful in authoring and seeing to the passage of legislation this year (AB 2153) that will now require districts to ensure teachers receive annual in-service training on issues, sensitivities and approaches to responding to their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queers, and questioning pupils. He also authored legislation, AB 2471 Healthy Start Support Services for Children Act, that would have provided new funds for districts to apply for grants to hire additional school-based support service programs including programs that increase mental health, social, and academic support services to break down barriers to academic success. Over the years, Thurmond’s distinguished career in public services shows his unwavering commitment to strengthen the social and emotional learning support programs in every school. Thurmond is best known for his unwavering commitment to stand up for those students who do not have a voice.  He attributes his background in social work as the reason why he believes in the necessity to have adequate student support services in every school.  He has promised to see to it that there is adequate staffing and oversight at CDE for school counseling if he is elected as State Superintendent. Tony Thurmond represents the 15th Assembly District, which encompasses the northern East Bay. 
Catalina Cifuentes, 2018 Advocate of the Year

Catalina Cifuentes is receiving CASC’s Advocate of the Year for 2018 because of her contagious passion for school counseling and because she has been a fierce advocate who has demonstrated over the years the power behind effective school counseling, college affordability and higher education advocacy on behalf of all students.  Catalina is currently the Executive Director of College and Career Readiness for the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) and is a California Governor-appointed Commissioner for the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). Catalina’s work on Riverside County’s FAFSA and California Dream Act submission initiative Race to Submit led to an increase in over 6,000 completed countywide applications in 2017. Race to Submit has now been adopted by CSAC and the California Department of Education as the new California statewide financial aid initiative. Catalina also serves on various local, regional, state, and national committees to have a voice in the decisions that affect our student’s access to a quality education and a promising future. Although she is often traveling the country presenting the results of the work being done in Riverside County, she is never too busy to help a student submit their FAFSA or help a school counseling team assess their data and learn how to improve. She was also the recipient of the Visionary Award from the California College Guidance Initiative (CCGI) and the 2018 Western Association for College Admissions Counseling (WACAC) Joe Allen Human Relations Award. As a first-generation college graduate, she strives to show the impact that can be made when educators have high expectations for all students and when students pursue their dreams regardless of the odds against them. Her dedication to the students she serves is unparalleled and she takes the RCOE pledge to heart that ALL students will graduate from high school well prepared for college and the workforce.