Anderson named National School Counselor of the Year semifinalist

Tori Lafon, Staff Writer

For a high school student who has to deal with stresses such as class schedules, college applications, and personal health, it can easily be said that a good high school guidance counselor can make all the difference.

Fortunately, according to the American School Counseling Association (ASCA), Bearden High School has one of the best in the country.

Bearden counselor and guidance department chair Mrs. Beverly Anderson was recently named a semifinalist for the 2015 School Counselor of the Year award. This means that, along with the School Counselor of the year, the four finalists, and the 21 other semifinalists, Mrs. Anderson will be flown to Washington D.C. for three days of commemorative events.

“I really feel Mrs. Anderson deserves this because she has always been so eager to help,” senior Maitraya Ghatak said. “I believe that proper guidance and information are indispensable to a successful high school career, and Mrs. Anderson provides that guidance to several students like me everyday.”

In Washington D.C., Mrs. Anderson will have the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and attend a congressional briefing. Then, on Jan. 30, before the events come to a close, the school counselors will be honored at a ceremony at the White House followed by a black-tie gala later that evening.

“I find the White House attention particularly exciting since it means school counselors are getting national recognition,” Mrs. Anderson said. “There are so many who do not get recognized for all their hard work, so I am so happy for the other counselors who will now be formally recognized.”

In order to be considered for the national award, Mrs. Anderson first had to be nominated by the Smoky Mountain chapter of the Tennessee Counseling Association as the Smoky Mountain counselor of the year. Then, the local chapter recommended Mrs. Anderson for the state level, who in turn nominated her for the national award in August.

Once nominated, Mrs. Anderson had to complete an application, which included several short answer essays as well as a video component.

“The application was so long, I felt like I was writing my dissertation,” Mrs. Anderson said. “It really took a lot of time and effort.”

A few months later, Mrs. Anderson was then notified that she was one of 22 semifinalists from throughout the nation, and therefore was invited to attend the Washington D.C. trip.

According to ASCA, the semifinalists are “school counselors who are running a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program at either the elementary, middle or high school level.” Nominees were judged by an ASCA panel based on criteria such as leadership skills, creative counseling innovations, and contributions to student enhancement.

Mrs. Anderson has spent seven years as a counselor at Bearden, dealing with student issues ranging from college planning to mental health. In that time, she has left her mark on both faculty and students, including Principal Dr. John Bartlett.

“Mrs. Anderson is focused on serving every student,” Dr. Bartlett said. “She brings a focus to the counseling department that puts the needs of students first in everything they do.”

Of the festivities planned, Mrs. Anderson is looking forward to the events which will allow her to be able to meet other school counselors from across the nation.

“Getting to visit the White House is super cool, especially because I am so excited to feel the energy and hear the ideas of all these other movers and shakers from the school counseling community,” Mrs. Anderson said. “Really, I just feel so excited to be a part of this.”