Overlea High School’s Zachary Clark named Maryland School Counselor of the Year

Zachary ClarkTOWSON, MD – The Maryland School Counselor Association has named Zachary Clark, of Overlea High School, as the 2019 Maryland School Counselor of the Year.

He will be honored at the National School Counseling Week gala on February 8, 2019, at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt, and he will be nominated to the American School Counselor Association for the National School Counselor of the Year award.

Clark was recognized for creating and implementing an exemplary comprehensive school counseling program at his school. Reviewers noted that he uses data to inform his practice, advocates for the needs of all students, and continuously and proactively works to improve equity in his school. He was lauded for his contributions to the development of a 6 Year Plan process used systemwide to help students focus on their ambitions and goal setting, and to support them in exploring opportunities, selecting courses, and accessing resources.

Under Clark’s leadership as school counseling department chair, Overlea High has doubled its 4-year college acceptance rate in one school year and achieved a 90% graduation rate.

His efforts in growing the AVID program at Overlea High School have led to the implementation of a course for Grade 9 students, based on the AVID model, called Effective Learning for College and Career Readiness. In addition, Clark is working to bring restorative practices to his school.

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In a letter of recommendation, a colleague wrote, “I have never once witnessed him put forth less than everything he has in service to students.”

Also at the school counseling gala in February, Stephanie Walsh of Catonsville Middle School will be honored as Middle School Counselor of the Year; Renee Jenkins of Deer Park Elementary will be named Principal of the Year, and Dr. Lynne Muller, the former coordinator of the BCPS Office of School Counseling and now a section chief in the Maryland State Department of Education, will be recognized as Advocate of the Year.

Walsh is being honored by the counseling association for managing a school counseling program that is consistent, strong, and infused with technology. Additionally, she has led the collaborative effort to create a peer-to-peer mentoring program among schools in her feeder pattern. Her principal, Dr. Douglas Elmendorf, noted that Walsh is a treasured resource at Catonsville Middle School and provides a tremendous wealth of support for teachers, staff, students, and families

In nominating Jenkins for the Principal of the Year, school counselor Martha Milli described how Jenkins respects, supports, and champions her work. Jenkins makes sure Milli has the time and resources needed to be effective, facilitates opportunities for counselor presentations to the school community and encourages the use of restorative practices mediation sessions with students.

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