By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

Counseling group honors Gwinnett professionals
Roberts Elementary’s Stacey Miller wins Georgia’s Counselor of the Year honor and Principal Linda Boyd of Twin Rivers Middle is GSCA Supervisor/Administrator of the Year

Two Gwinnett educators have been recognized as top professionals in their field by the Georgia School Counselors Association (GSCA).

The organization named Stacey Miller of Roberts Elementary as the 2014 Georgia School Counselor of the Year, and Linda Boyd of Twin Rivers Middle as its Supervisor/Administrator of the Year. In addition, Andrea Antwine of Couch Middle and Rasheedra Nelson of Collins Hill High were recognized as semi-finalists for the state counselor title.

Gwinnett County counselors are consistently among the most recognized in the country in terms of state and national honors. This year’s recognition marks the third consecutive year a Gwinnett school counselor earned the overall state title. The state counseling group began naming one overall counselor of the year last school year and that inaugural honor was presented to Robin Zorn of Mason Elementary in the Peachtree Ridge Cluster. Mrs. Zorn went on to be named National Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselors Association.   

Stacey Miller of Roberts Elementary 

2014 Georgia School Counselor of the Year

2014 Gwinnett County Elementary School Counselor of the Year

In 2010, Stacey Lynn Miller became part of the inaugural staff at Roberts Elementary. “She was our only counselor with over 700 students and what an amazing job she has done for us,” says Roberts Elementary Principal Dr. Dion Jones, speaking how Mrs. Miller contributed to helping everyone adjust to the environment of a new school. “I have seen Mrs. Miller work through student issues, parent issues, and staff issues with the same smile, attitude, and love,” adds Dr. Jones. 

As the school continues to grow, Dr. Jones credits Mrs. Miller with having a direct impact on student academic achievement as she targets to assist students who might be in need of additional support. For example, during the 2011-2012 school year, Roberts Elementary’s Local School Plan for Improvement (LSPI) called for closing the achievement gap between Hispanic and African American students and White students in the areas of reading and mathematics. Mrs. Miller designed and implemented an Academic Advisement Small Group plan focusing on goals, work habits, and test-taking skills. Her efforts paid off at the end of the school year as measured by the state’s Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) in which 67% of the students Mrs. Miller had worked with performed in the “exceeds” category in both subject areas. 

In addition to focusing on what students are currently learning, Mrs. Miller also looks ahead to the future. Through the "Kids to College" program, she brings to life a college and career week in which students are challenged and engaged. During the unit, students research a college, fill out an application, and create a “profile” for after college and the career path they’d like to take. 

Mrs. Miller has dedicated eight years to the school counseling profession, all in Gwinnett County. Prior to opening Roberts Elementary in 2010, she was part of the counseling team at Riverside Elementary, also in the North Gwinnett Cluster. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in School Counseling, both from the University of Georgia. She continued her education at UGA earning a specialist’s degree in School Counseling. 

Linda Boyd of Twin Rivers Middle 

2014 Georgia School Counselor Association Supervisor/Administrator of the Year

2014 Gwinnett County Mary Joe Hannaford Counseling Advocate of the Year

The counseling team at Twin Rivers Middle nominated Principal Linda Boyd because they see her as an exemplary example of an advocate through her actions, her speech, her leadership, and her spirit. 

“Building individual relationships with students and removing barriers to academic achievement are at the top of Mrs. Boyd’s priority list, and nowhere is this communicated more clearly than through her support of the counseling department,” the counselors wrote when nominating their school principal. 

The counselors explain that, as part of the counseling department’s goals for 2013-2014, Mrs. Boyd stated her desire to see more small-group opportunities for students during the school day. The counselors use this example to highlight how the items on their principal’s wish list are always accompanied with full support. They explain, “Mrs. Boyd supports our small-group efforts by helping secure appropriate and necessary data, ensuring students are able to attend group meetings, and reminding teachers that while academic time is of the utmost importance, it will not be effective unless social, emotional, and behavioral concerns can be addressed.” Another example of Mrs. Boyd’s support comes in the form of the Eighth Grade Career Day. The counselors are thankful for Mrs. Boyd’s support through funding, time for students to be able to explore the different careers, and the principal’s personal effort to recruit speakers and business partners. 

Perhaps the area where the Twin Rivers Middle counseling team has been the most appreciative of Mrs. Boyd’s support is when she kept her word that the new normal would not be a school without a full counseling team despite the tough economic times of school districts across the state. “True to her word and as soon as she was able, Linda Boyd hired a third counselor, allowing our department to return to having an individual focus on each particular grade level. They added that Mrs. Boyd has created an environment at Twin Rivers in which counselors are seen as integral pieces to the success of both students and teachers. They explained saying, “Mrs. Boyd’s integrity, passion, leadership, and respect, coupled with her high expectations for both students and staff, make Twin Rivers Middle a phenomenal place to serve as counselors.” 

Mrs. Boyd opened Twin Rivers Middle in 2009. Before helping create the Mountain View Cluster, she served as the principal of Snellville Middle (2003-2009), an assistant principal at Dacula Middle (1999-2003), and as teacher at Duluth Middle (1988-1999). A veteran educator, Mrs. Boyd holds both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Middle Grades Education and a specialist’s degree in Educational Leadership, all from the University of Georgia. 

The Georgia School Counselor Association will officially recognize Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Boyd with their awards during the Georgia School Counselor Association Annual State Conference in Augusta on November 11, 2014. 

For more information, news media representatives can contact Dianne Thompson, GCPS director of advisement and counseling, by calling 678-301-7372.