CMS Names 2024 School Counselors of the Year
Three Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools counselors have been named School Counselor of the Year:
- Nina Franklin, Ridge Road Middle School
- Sequoia Goodman, Myers Park High School
- Shannon Kromer, Matthews Elementary School
School counselors are certified/licensed educators who improve student success for all students by implementing a comprehensive school counseling program.
“As school counselors, we lead, advocate and collaborate to promote equity and access for all students by connecting our comprehensive program to our school’s mission,” said Tuere Dunton-Forbes, School Counseling Program manager for middle and K-8 schools. “For this reason, we work to deliver proactive data-driven core and supplemental support that addresses students' social-emotional, academic and college-career development. School counselors are passionate about helping students succeed. CMS is fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated counseling staff.”
The American School Counselor Association (ACSA) outlines the components of a school counseling program that are integral to the school’s academic mission and have a significant positive impact on student achievement, attendance and discipline.
The ASCA National Model guides school counselors in the development of school counseling programs that:
- are based on data-informed decision-making
- are delivered to all students systematically
- include a developmentally appropriate curriculum focused on the mindsets and behaviors all students need for postsecondary readiness and success
- close achievement and opportunity gaps
- result in improved student achievement, attendance and discipline
School counselors play a critical role at every level – elementary, middle and high school – in helping students overcome obstacles and prepare for future success.
Colleagues nominated the three School Counselors of the Year for their outstanding service:
Nina Franklin, a counselor at Ridge Road Middle School, has worked in counseling and education for 10 years. She started as a middle school teacher, but after spending more time working with her students on social and emotional learning and wanting to build on her skills, she went to graduate school to get a degree in school counseling.
“I love what I do working with my students,” said Franklin. “I get to see their growth from elementary school and help work on their independence and social skills in middle school.”
Her colleagues say she embodies everything it means to be a school counselor.
“Everything she does is student-centered,” said Ridge Road Middle Principal Daniel Gray. “It all comes back to our kids learning and growing in all different capacities, whether it’s academic, social or emotional.”
Franklin is committed to professional development and had the opportunity to attend “Reconnect for Resilience” training. She said the ideas and strategies are pertinent not only to her own self-reflections and self-care but also to her work with students to build their skills in coping with challenging situations and feelings.
“Now, each week I am integrating the strategies in small group and individual sessions with students,” said Franklin. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have concrete strategies that are now integrated into my daily professional practice.”
Franklin’s team says she goes far above and beyond in her roles as a counselor, student service team member, and educator but does it with such grace that it is inspiring. They say her positive attitude, patience and expertise make her a valuable resource, and Ridge Road is a better place because Franklin is in the building.
Sequoia Goodman of Myers Park High School has been a school counselor for 18 years. She was nominated by the Myers Park counseling team and other school leaders, who describe her as someone who goes above and beyond for her students and team, making everyone feel valued and included. The team said Goodman is a calm, organized and dedicated leader with a wealth of knowledge and counseling skills.
“Sequoia Goodman is an experienced counselor who has devoted her career to creating opportunities for all students she encounters,” said Myers Park Principal Robert Folk. “She is a caring, competent and compassionate person who makes the world better for everyone she meets. Myers Park is very proud and fortunate to have her as a member of our counseling team.”
Goodman encourages everyone to find their true passions in life. She said that while growing up, she had the best school counselors from elementary through high school, which fueled her passion for counseling at an early age.
“In middle school, the counselor that worked with us was amazing,” Goodman said, “and I knew then that that's what I wanted to do. I love this profession.”
Last year, Goodman worked on a project to decrease the number of suspensions for African-American students. She met with students returning from suspensions to create “re-entry plans.” Myers Park reduced suspensions from 51% in 2021-2022 to 37% in 2022-2023, and the team is working toward a goal of 23% this year.
A big part of counseling at the high school level is helping students find the path to what they want to do after graduation – helping them select courses, community programs and things that will pique their interest so they can make the best decision for themselves, Goodman said.
“When they walk out of these doors, we know they have a plan to do something that will help them in the future,” she said.
“I hope that students know we are always there for them, that we will always find ways to help them, whether it is for academics, personal, social or just helping them navigate the day,” Goodman said. “Our staff and team are so amazing. We have the support of administrators, and everybody works together to make sure that our students feel loved, accepted, and know that they have someone at the school that cares about them.”
Shannon Kromer has been a school counselor for eight years and is currently at Matthews Elementary School, which she calls her “Disney World.”
“It’s the happiest place on Earth for me,” said Kromer. “From the moment I get here in the mornings to the car rider line at the end of the day, we have fun. We laugh together, we have each other’s backs, and I couldn’t do this job without them.”
Kromer’s colleagues say her joy and passion for her work is contagious. They describe her as an incredible resource who inspires others.
“Kromer is an outstanding example of what a school counselor should be,” said Penelope Crisp, Matthews Elementary principal. “She’s there for the kids. She’s there beyond the school day and reaches out to families beyond their basic needs. Her love and care for our school and kids is paramount.”
Kromer focuses on the chronic absenteeism of Hispanic students. She developed a specific goal: by the third quarter of 2023-24, Hispanic students in third through fifth grade with three or more unexcused absences in Q1 will decrease their absences by 10%. She meets with students to determine the barriers to attendance and then works with them and their families to overcome them.
In addition, Crisp said she challenges her staff daily to call a student by their name other than their teacher.
“We created a program — through counseling because they see them in the learning lab and SEL too — that ensures that every child knows that someone knows their name beyond their teacher,” said Crisp. “Because when they feel like they belong, they want to come to school every day.”