NOTTINGHAM, MD—The Baltimore County Association for Counseling and Development has named its 2020 school counselors and school counseling advocate of the year.
The association has presented the following honors:
Silvana Alsamadi – Elementary School Counselor of the Year
Robin Taylor-Chadwick – Middle School Counselor of the Year
Stephanie Campbell – High School Counselor of the Year
Dr. Amalio Nieves – School Counseling Advocate of the Year
Alsamadi, school counselor at Chapel Hill Elementary School in Perry Hall, provides individual counseling, special issues group counseling, classroom guidance lessons, and mediation of peer issues. She collaborates with teachers, staff, and parents, participates in Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, and completes classroom observations. She contributes to her professional community by publishing articles – on topics such as screening tests for emotional problems and the need for gay-straight alliances in rural high schools – and facilitating presentations on topics related to welcoming Muslim students and parents.
In nominating Alsamadi, Chapel Hill Elementary Principal Nancy Hill wrote: “I find Mrs. Alsamadi’s most important and valuable quality the way she forms trusting relationships with students and parents, teachers and staff, and the administration. She leads with her heart, and her kindness, empathy, and true love of students shine through with every word she speaks and every action she takes to help our students (and staff).“
Taylor-Chadwick, school counseling department chair at Sparrows Point Middle School, is a leader on the school’s equity team, provided fundamental support in developing the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), led the implementation of restorative circles, and created an advisory program, specialized small groups, and successful mentoring programs. She guides students through the high school magnet school application process, organizes the school’s annual career day, and facilitates a program that helps families in need during the holidays.
“This school year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Taylor-Chadwick’s leadership brought our teachers and staff together by keeping our students at the center of our decisions and leading with the heart first….,” wrote Sparrows Point Middle Principal Jennifer Gounaris. “During these unprecedented times, she supported school, community, and family partnerships by integrating academics, social emotional learning, family support, health, and safety throughout the school closure. This has included facilitating difficult conversations about making assumptions as to why a student may not be logging on for classes or submitting work and how that can lead to unhealthy judgments about a student and his or her family. As a woman of color in a majority white school, Ms. Taylor-Chadwick’s passion and conviction demonstrate true courage. Her authenticity, coupled with the relationships she has built, create conditions in which this message can be heard, and true change can occur. As a result, our most marginalized students feel that they belong, have adults who care about them, and have diverse opportunities in our building.“
Campbell, a school counselor at Loch Raven and Perry Hall high schools, was nominated by Kelly A. O’Brien Guerra, a parent of 2019 and 2020 Loch Raven High graduates and a Baltimore City Schools educator. Guerra describes Campbell as “without a doubt … the best counselor that I have ever met or worked with.”
In her nomination, Guerra wrote, “On March 15, 2020, due to COVID-19, the world stopped, and with it so did many students’ aspirations for the future. As the parent of a 2020 graduate from Loch Raven High school, … I can attest that Ms. Campbell went above and beyond her duty as a counselor by constantly reaching out to her students, not only regarding their college applications, but also to check on their mental and emotional health…. This year has been an extremely emotional year for the students and parents in the Class of 2020. However, thanks to Ms. Campbell, countless students now feel much more secure in such an insecure time.”
Guerra credits Campbell for offering extraordinary support in helping both her daughter and stepdaughter with their college choices and acceptances and for working diligently to educate underclassmen and their parents. Guerra wrote: “She understood as a mother does: that children’s’ futures are at stake.”
Nieves, the 2020 School Counseling Advocate of the Year, is the executive director of the BCPS Department of Social-Emotional Support.
In presenting the award to Nieves, Nancy Schlenoff, school counseling department chair at Cockeysville Middle School, said, “As school counselors, we know that our students are more likely to be academically successful if they are first healthy, both socially and emotionally. To support our students, we are change-agents, advocates, and social-emotional teachers. Dr. Nieves shares our profession’s philosophy. In everything he says and does, Dr. Nieves shows us his enduring love and support for education and the social-emotional well-being of our diverse population of students and communities. Dr. Nieves also knows how important it is for those of us that help others to also be supported and cared for. He works collaboratively with us and fully supports our role in our school communities.”
Schlenoff thanked Nieves for his “moving and inspiring greeting” to school counselors during their first professional development day of the new school year. She also noted that he participates in department chair meetings; sends notes to thank school counselors for their work outside of the regular school day, such as their work with the Traumatic Loss Team; and advocates for school counselors to have the resources and materials they need.