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Smyrna High wins first Delaware school counseling award

Ben Mace
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
The Smyrna High School counselors, pictured during College Appreciation Week in 2019, from left: James Kiger, Tiffany Duke, Jennifer Wagner, Ashley Carrow, Loveita Moffett and Ron Girton. Not pictured: Sara Black, registrar, and Brenda Solloway, administrative assistant.

Smyrna High School has been selected by the Delaware Department of Education as the first winner of the Sapphire Award for Excellence in School Counseling.

Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said this new state recognition honors school counseling programs that are comprehensive, data-informed and designed to serve all students.

"Smyrna High's school counselors should be commended for their commitment to students and their dedication to both self-evaluation and the continuous improvement of their services," Bunting said.

The school’s counseling team includes Department Chair Jennifer Wagner, Ashley Carrow, Tiffany Duke, Ron Girton, James Kiger, Loveita Moffett, Sara Black, registrar, and Brenda Solloway, administrative assistant.

According to the Delaware Department of Education, research shows that school counseling programs that are aligned to the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) National Model improve student outcomes.

These comprehensive programs:

• are based on data-informed decision-making;

• are delivered to all students systematically;

• include developmentally appropriate curriculum focused on the mindsets and behaviors all students need for postsecondary readiness and success;

• close achievement and opportunity gaps; and

• result in improved student achievement, attendance and discipline.

 "Smyrna High School’s counseling program exemplifies these characteristics," Bunting said.

Smyrna Superintendent Patrik Williams congratulated the members of the high school counseling team and commended their efforts.

“We are honored to receive this news, and we are grateful for all of the dedication, compassion and support that our counselor team at SHS provides our families, especially during this difficult time," Williams said. "Our counselors and mental health teams are vital parts of our educational culture in every school, and this award speaks to the important role that they play every day.”

Principal Stacy Cook said the counseling team “always puts the needs of our students first.”

“Their work impacts our students' academic success, as well as their physical and mental well-being,” Cook said. “They are proactive advocates for our students to make sure that all of their needs are met as students and as developing young adults. In recent years, we have depended on them to guide us through very difficult times. They are unwavering in their dedication to our students and our staff. SHS is truly blessed to have each of them as part of our school family.”

The Sapphire Award is open to all Delaware public school districts and charter schools. School counseling programs must be implemented by a state-certified school counselor.

What’s next

Smyrna High will be recognized formally for the award during DSCA’s National School Counseling Week celebrations Feb. 1-5, 2021. 

Through the Delaware Department of Education's partnership with the Delaware School Counselor Association and the American School Counselor Association, Smyrna High now is eligible to also receive the Recognized ASCA Model Program award. If Smyrna High decides to pursue this nationally recognized award, it would be the first Delaware school to ever receive the designation. 

More from the counselors

Look for interviews with the counselors Nov. 4 in the Sun-Times newspaper and on this website.

More school district news:Back to school in person: hybrid lessons start for grades K-3