The American School Counseling Association has selected Kaet Barron of Maryville Elementary as Kentucky’s only representative for the 2017 School Counselor of the Year Program.
Barron, the 2016-2017 Kentucky Elementary School Counselor of the Year, will travel to Washington, D.C., Jan. 4–6, 2017, to be honored in a ceremony at the White House and be formally recognized at a black-tie gala at the historic Union Station.
“I am overwhelmed, honored and incredibly excited,” she said.
Barron learned a few years ago what President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were doing to recognize school counselors.
“My husband, Adam, and I believe in setting goals for ourselves and striving to achieve them,” she said. “My goal was to win Kentucky School Counselor of the Year and go to DC. His pushed me and encouraged me to reach this goal.”
Accompanying Barron to the nation’s capitol are Adam and their two daughters (who will make a holiday visit to their aunt).
Adam will join his wife at the White House. For the Black Tie Gala, Sarah Hurt, one of Barron’s best friends, will attend.
“My aunt has lived in DC my entire life, so I feel pretty comfortable with the city, however, I have never been in the White House or met a president,” Barron explained. “Four years ago, I was invited to attend the Presidential Inauguration as an educational representative from Kentucky so to go back to DC is pretty remarkable.”
While in DC, Barron hopes to meet Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Yarmuth to inform them about the real issues facing Kentucky children in schools.
“I don’t think school counselors are given enough recognition for the work they do, especially elementary school counselors,” she said. “Most people associate school counseling with high school and course scheduling and college applications, but it is much more than that, especially in elementary school.”
Barron cited students investing more time in elementary school than at any other grade level.
“It is believed that children’s moral thinking and reasoning is set by ten to twelve years of age. The work that elementary school counselors are doing to teach social and emotional empathy is vital,” she emphasized. “Fredrick Douglass said, ‘It is better to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ I believe elementary counselors and teachers are playing a very important part in building strong children.”
State representatives were selected based on several criteria, including: school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership and advocacy skills and contributions to student advancement.
Barron’s accomplishments at Maryville include:
- School counseling innovations: College and Career Readiness, Book Clubs, Goal Setters, Reward Lunches, Maryville MES Mart, Positive Postcards, Arts and Humanities days, Career Fair, etc.
- Effective school counseling programs: Hosting a college and career readiness week as well as an annual career fair. Instead of detention, a behavior management course once a month. “We have seen great success with it and have had very few repeat students,” Barron noted. Dramatically reduced the amount of referrals and bus referrals at Maryville over the past five years. Working very hard to improve school attendance. Classes with improved attendance get to have lunch with her while students with perfect attendance get to pick friends to have lunch with Barron in her office. She meets with students individually, in groups and in classroom guidance.
- Leadership and advocacy skill: Barron prepares a year-end data report each June that is sent to stakeholders and made available to any interested person. She has also provided training opportunities to counselors in the state regarding human trafficking and parental incarceration. Barron has presented across Kentucky regarding working with children who have an incarcerated parent. Barron is part of the Community Forum to Increase Resources and Supports for Families and Children affected by Incarceration. She also serves on four boards: Thomas Edison House, West Louisville Performing Arts Academy, Christ Church School and the Fund for the Arts Next! Gen Board. She is a nationally certified Bully Prevention Specialist and a School Counseling Data Specialist. Earlier this year, she was named Louisville Business 40 Under 40, Today’s Woman Way to Go Woman: Leadership and the Overall School Counselor of the Year for Kentucky.
- Contributions to student advancement: There are currently 25 children in Maryville’s goal setters program which meet with her weekly to work on achieving personal and academic goals. She has also organized a book club and a leadership team of 15 fourth and fifth grade students. Here is a link to her latest monthly newsletter that goes into more detail about the current counseling program: https://www.smore.com/xu1b7.