Sarah Slemmons, 2020 California School Counselor of the Year
Sarah Slemmons, a middle school counselor at Culver City Middle School in the Culver City Unified School District, is the 2020 California School Counselor of the Year. This tribute is annually bestowed on only one individual. It is a time when we 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 by following the ASCA National Model. The Awards Committee selected Ms. Slemmons as CASC’s 2020 School Counselor of the Year because she has been instrumental in implementing a data-driven school counseling program at her school site and in advocating for this program to the school board, school site, with the school counselors within her district, and in the greater Los Angeles area. Her advocacy for our profession has benefited her school district and has branched out into nearby districts when she created and hosted the first annual Middle School Counselor Symposium on the west side of Los Angeles. Sarah Slemmons’ principal, Elsy Villafranca, said, “Ms. Slemmons demonstrates remarkable leadership skills that work to inspire her colleagues to continue striving for improvement.”
Sarah received her Bachelor of Arts from University of Redlands, and her Master of Arts in Counseling and Pupil Personnel Services credential from California State University Dominguez Hills. As the California School Counselor of the Year, Sarah will be eligible to compete for the National School Counselor of the Year in 2020. It is a great pleasure to present Sarah Slemmons as the Donald G. Hays School Counselor of the Year!
Dr. Traci Miller, 2019 Administrator of the Year
Dr. Miller began her career as school counselor at Hamilton Middle School in Stockton in 1996. She has worked at the middle school and high school levels as a school counselor and then , after receiving her administrative credential, moved into administration as an assistant principal, principal, and now serves as the Director of Student Services in the Stockton Unified School District.
Dr. Jose Cardenas, from Stockton Unified School District, states, “Dr. Miller serves at the Director of Student Services (of Stockton Unified School District) overseeing all the school counselors in the district. She hired over 40 school counselors during the summer of 2018 …..she has been part of a school that was recognized as on of the schools named by Newsweek magazine as the top 300 schools in helping student beat the odds. She is diligently working with community partners, and state and national leaders to provide more opportunities and resources for all students. She strives to enhance the profession of school counselors across the Central Valley and across the state” of California. “Dr. Miller is a champion for students, their families, and the school counseling profession.” CASC is pleased to present this award to Dr. Traci Miller!
Rebecca Pianta, 2019 Counselor Advocate of the Year (Individual award)
Rebecca Pianta is the Coordinator of Counseling and Student Support with the Capistrano Unified School District and serves as adjunct faculty in the Graduate School of Education at Chapman University where she teaches and supervises school counseling graduate students.
Rebecca is described as a “powerhouse” by Dr. Caroline Lopez-Perry, Assistant Professor in the School Counseling Program at California State University Long Beach because she has worked enthusiastically to transform the counseling department in her district and to impact the next generation of school counselors through her work as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Education at Chapman University. Rebecca has updated the School Counseling fieldwork handbook at Chapman to align with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing school counseling standards, serves as a School Counseling Program reviewer with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, trains school counselors in Restorative Practices, PBIS, and Trauma Informed Practices.
Dr. Lopez-Perry also states, “(Rebecca) has utilized data collection, including needs assessments and us of time assessments to successfully advocate for the removal of non-counselor duties for counselors in her district and for comprehensive school counseling programs across her district. Mrs. Pianta led the development of a district-wide advisory board that created a delivery plan to ensure that counselors addressed direct services in all three domains. This has led to a 60% decrease in bullying and 13% increase in the district school climate index score. Rebecca provides leadership to the counselors in her district to help align their programs to the ASCA National Model. As a result, through her support and guidance, four schools in her district received RAMP recognition.” CASC is thrilled to present this award to Rebecca Pianta!
The California ACLU, 2019 Counselor Advocate of the Year (Organization Award)