Palmdale School District Counselor of the Year award Keisha Burns .

DOWNEY, Calif. — The work of school counselors in supporting students’ emotional and academic well-being has never been more urgent given the impact of distance learning and social isolation caused by the pandemic.

To pay tribute to these vital professionals, the Los Angeles County Office of Education will honor two outstanding individuals with its first School Counselor of the Year award: Keisha Burns, Shadow Hills Engineering and Design Magnet Academy, Palmdale School District, and Karen Preacely Hicks, Lawndale High School, Centinela Valley Union High School District.

“Counselors are integral to a school’s student support team to help ensure that the needs of the whole child are met and to create a healthy school environment,” said Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools. “They are indispensable in our efforts to combat the stress and learning loss that young people are grappling with as a result of the pandemic.”

Keisha Burns, a counselor since 2015, is honored for creating a counseling program at Shadow Hills Magnet Academy recognized as a national model by the American School Counselor Association. She assists students with academics, social/emotional development and college/careers by providing core counseling lessons, small group intervention and individual counseling sessions.

Karen Preacely Hicks, a counselor since 2007, aligns her counseling program at Lawndale High School to the national association’s model by ensuring that is developmentally appropriate and data driven. Her goal is to offer students guidance, advice and support in academic achievement, school attendance and social and emotional needs.

LACOE's School Counselor of the Year Award recognizes professionals who are implementing the American School Counselor Association’s National Model, which aims to provide equitable access for all students through advocacy, leadership, collaboration and systematic change.

Burns and Preacely Hicks will receive the award on Jan. 28 at the Los Angeles County School Counseling Symposium organized by LACOE and to be held virtually for professionals across the region.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education, headquartered in Downey, is the nation’s largest regional education agency, providing a range of programs and services to support the region’s 80 K- 12 school districts and two million preschool and school-age children.

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