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CCSD recognizes outstanding counselors | People

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CCSD recognizes outstanding counselors
People, Schools
CCSD recognizes outstanding counselors

WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- For the first time ever, the Cherokee County School District has selected outstanding counselors for recognition.

Each high school innovation zone nominated a counselor from among its member schools to be considered for the district award. The process included an application, personal essay and letters of recommendation.

Cherokee Zone (Canton): Carol Baumgartner

Baumgartner has been with Cherokee High since 2005; before that, she worked in Cobb and Gwinnett County schools.

She established "Warrior Wednesdays" for her school's Teacher as Advisor program and works tirelessly to coordinate more than 40 organizations for the annual College Fair and Panel Night.

Baumgartner strives to help her students academically and emotionally, all with a focus on their career aspirations and personal achievements.

"Quality professional school counseling programs involve collaboration among teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, the community and students," she said. "It takes all of us to guide students in realizing and achieving both personal and academic success."

Creekview Zone (Canton): Ellen Ewers

Ewers came to Creekview when the school opened in 2005. As the sole counselor for a school with only a freshman class, she built the guidance counseling program from the ground up.

In six years, Ewers has been an integral part of the student-focused team that has made Creekview famous as a high-achieving, high-performing school.

She also serves as testing coordinator and manages a series of programs ranging from Freshman Academy to HOPE Scholarship reporting. She is a graduate of Cherokee High School.

"I hope that as I have been able to work with so many students, parents and staff that I have made a positive impact in their lives," Ewers said. "I know that I have become a better person because our paths have crossed."

Etowah Zone (Woodstock): Donna Ratliff

Ratliff has worked in Cherokee County schools, including Chapman Intermediate and E. T. Booth Middle, for nearly 20 years.

She brought the Rainbows grief and loss counseling program to multiple schools and launched Peacemakers, a major anti-bullying focus. Additional outreach programs include the Friends Program, peer helpers and Career Day activities.

Outside of school, Ratliff facilitates support groups for girls on probation through the Cherokee County Department of Juvenile Justice.

"I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with many students who are facing issues unheard of in prior generations," she said. "This, to me, is what counseling is all about -- helping students deal with today as they grow for tomorrow."

Sequoyah Zone (Canton): Chris Guy

Guy has been the counselor at Holly Springs Elementary since 2002. Every day, he works with students on crisis, divorce, death and other sensitive topics using real-life examples and experiences to connect with them.

Guy is also the school's testing coordinator. He reaches his students through compassion, concern, humor and creativity, yet still holds them accountable for their actions.

"A central component to my spontaneous classes is my sense of humor," Guy said. "We laugh with and enjoy those whom we care for and know care about us the most."

Woodstock Zone: Ron Metcalf

Metcalf has been with Woodstock Middle since it opened in 1996, developing programs centered on anti-bullying, character ed and grief counseling.

He offers support to his students on a daily basis, and they speak highly of his ability to help them navigate the rocky waters of middle school life.

Metcalf also works with the Cherokee County Justice Court to provide a seven-week anger management course for students on probation. He volunteers with Give a Kid a Chance back-to-school resource fair and Cherokee Thanksgiving, and has served on the county's Foster Care Review Panel.

"Over the years, the role of school counselors has seen many changes," Metcalf said. "Our current economic situation has more families struggling and more students in need of our services. This makes it important for counselors to be well connected with each other to provide support and encouragement."

River Ridge Zone (Woodstock): Tina Word -- CCSD Counselor of the Year

Word, who works for Johnston Elementary, has a background in special education and more than 18 years of experience as a teacher and counselor.

When she first arrived at Johnston in 2005, she revolutionized the school's Student Support System, developing resources like a mentor program, assistance program for families, individual and group counseling services, enhanced career fairs and more. She also chairs the school's Response to Intervention (RTI) committee.

Word is involved in peer tutoring, ExP and the retention committee. Her love and support of children expands beyond the classroom, as she and her husband have served as long-time foster parents, working closely with Cherokee County DFACS and CASA for Children.

"I am a child advocate in every sense of the word," she said. "I believe that every child can learn and develop academically and socially as long as they are given the support, encouragement and tools they need."

Word will represent the CCSD in the Georgia School Counselors Association selection process for the State Counselor of the Year for 2010-2011.

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