BY REBECCA BENNETT — The American School Counselor Association said state representatives for the “Counselor of the Year” program were selected because of their school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership and advocacy skills and contributions to student advancement.
When Hyattsville resident Carletta Hurt — a school counselor at Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science — was selected as the 2016 Washington, D.C. Counselor of the Year representative, she said it had something to do with her innovative high school transition program.
The District of Columbia Public School System has several high schools that students enter a lottery for the chance to enroll. Hurt said the transition program gets eighth graders ready to apply through a two- to three-month process that begins in January. The school sits down with students, goes over their grades, their test scores, their skills, how they feel, how they learn and their behavior. Hurt said they go over school options and she stresses that students should visit the schools, because they will spend the next four years there. The school counselor also helps students become their own advocate and discusses summer prep work.
The program is in its fifth year, which now allows Hurt to see how the process has prepared them to apply for college.
“Ms. Hurt’s dedication to the mission and vision of our school, to the success of all our scholars, and to the support of our parents is invaluable. She has supported our students in their transition to high school, helping them transition to such schools as Sidwell Friends, School Without Walls and Banneker High School,” said Head of School Kathryn Procope.
Hurt, who has worked in inner-city and public charter schools, said her role as a counselor is really about advocating with parents on a regular basis. She said she works at developing a relationship with parents and students, builds partnerships, and tries to connect with parents who who are not active.
“I stress to parents to know your child’s counselor,” she said. “Know who is in the building to advocate for your child and make us work.” Hurt said a counselor can assist students when parents cannot and they are resources for community outreach opportunities when students are having larger issues.
Hurt will be honored at the White House and meet First Lady Michelle Obama on Jan. 28.