Photo (from left): Kimberly Brown, Suzan Ballard and Jalissa Newton
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 20, 2017
Veteran middle school educator named
as 2017 School Counselor of the Year
BEAUFORT – Veteran H.E. McCracken Middle School lead counselor Suzan Ballard is the Beaufort County School District’s 2017 School Counselor of the Year.
Superintendent Jeff Moss made the announcement today at an awards breakfast for the district’s counselors. In addition to honoring Ballard, Moss also recognized Jalissa Newton (Lady’s Island Elementary) as the district’s Elementary School Counselor of the Year and Kimberly Brown (Whale Branch Early College High) as the High School Counselor of the Year.
“Top-notch schools have top-notch school counselors,” Moss said. “They keep students on track for success, both academically and emotionally. And they also have to be excellent communicators in order to keep parents informed about their children’s progress.”
A 30-year education veteran, Ballard has worked in the Beaufort County School District for 16 years, including several years as a classroom teacher. She has served as a school counselor for the past 12 years.
At H.E. McCracken Middle School, colleagues said that Ballard had developed positive relationships with community agencies, improved the school’s career guidance program and guided the implementation of programs to help at-risk students. One of those programs, “Back on Track,” focused on reducing the academic failure rate among students at the school.
“She’s the kind of team member who makes it easier to work on difficult days,” said Principal Jerry Henderson. “My mother was a school counselor, so I set a pretty high bar in terms of a counselor’s performance. Ms. Ballard goes above and beyond every day.”
A key challenge for Ballard has been helping to manage McCracken’s transition this year from serving students in grades 8-9 to serving students in grades 6-8. Henderson said that Ballard also has refined the way the school develops customized graduation plans for students as they prepare for high school. In addition, Ballard has worked with the district office to improve the effectiveness of Naviance, a software program that lets students and their parents identify student strengths and interests and develop individual learning plans aligned to students’ goals.
Selina Denny of Bluffton said that Ballard was a tremendous asset to her during her own school years – and today Ballard is her daughter’s counselor. “As an adult, now I look back and I’m grateful to Ms. Ballard for all of the advice she was able to provide me with personal issues and to make sure I met my academic goals to become a successful adult,” Denny said.
A three-person panel of district administrators evaluated this year’s candidates and selected the honorees.
More than 20 local businesses and community members sponsored the awards breakfast and donated gifts for the school district’s counselors.