Valdosta High School Counselor chosen As Georgia High School Counselor of the Year

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Press Release From Georgia School Counselors Association:

Brian Law, school counselor at Valdosta High School was named the 2009-2010 High School Counselor of the Year. Law received the top honor for high school counselors in Atlanta on November 23rd in Atlanta. He was accompanied by Valdosta High School principal Gary Boling, wife Cindy Boling and 2009 VHS Valedictorian and Georgia Tech student, Allison Hemmelgarn. Law was also named a Top 10 school counselor in the nation in January at an awards gala in Washington DC.

Law has been a school counselor at Valdosta High School since 2005-2006. Prior to joining the faculty at VHS, he was a school counselor at Odom Elementary for eight years and counselor/coordinator of Williams Middle Alternative Program for one year in Colquitt County Schools. He was chosen the 2003-04 State and National Elementary School Counselor of the Year as well as State School Counselor Human Rights Award winner. He was the 2006 State School Counselor Writer of the Year. After receiving the highest honor for elementary school counselors, Law wanted to try a different level. He was deemed too elementary to move to the high school level. He further wanted the challenge to prove that “children are children at all levels and just need someone to love and advocate for them to be successful.” On the eve of receiving the National Elementary School Counselor of the year award in June of 2004 a Colquitt County principal offered him a job at the middle level to develop a therapeutic middle school alternative program at Williams Middle in Colquitt County. He accepted the opportunity in hopes to eventually move to the high school level and counsel at all levels. When a position came open at Valdosta High in 2005-06, he left to accept the new challenge. A former middle school teacher in Berrien County for his first three years in education, he has worked at all levels P-12. When asked which level is his favorite, Law states, “They are all children and need an advocate to help them through the challenges of childhood and youth. At the elementary level, you are making a difference but don’t know it and the children don’t know it until later when the student gets older and realizes the impact you had on his/her educational success. At the middle level, you know you are making a difference and the student knows it, but would never admit it. At the high school level, both of you know that you are making a difference and the impact is immediate and the gratitude is evident when they know you care.”

Nominated for this top state honor by former intern and now school counselor at Pinevale Learning Center in Valdosta City Schools, T. J. Gay who stated, “Brian Law is a testament to the passion for the profession. His advocacy and leadership in the school counseling field is met by few others. I have seen him demonstrate and unwavering compassion and love for his students individually. He is protective of their hearts, minds and futures. More important than any title or award is his unconditional regard for his students, parents, teachers administrators, and other stakeholders who impact the lives of young people. If I could sum up Mr. Law’s approach to school counseling with just one word, it would be dedication. Mr. Law is a mentor who “bridges the gap” between the textbook and the schoolhouse.”

Allison Hemmelgarn, Valedictorian of the VHS class of 2009 says, “The Valdosta High School Class of 2009 was Mr. Law's first graduating class and his support for us continued after we moved out of the Freshman Academy. He assisted in building two winning homecoming floats, finishing college applications, and tweaking graduation speeches. Despite being the primary freshman counselor, Mr. Law always made time for his former students often on his own time. He deserves this award because of his tireless dedication and unwavering passion for his students. As a former student, I am proud to witness Mr. Law receive this award and hope his current students are thankful for his presence. "

VHS Principal Gary Boling describes Law as, “Brian Law is one of the most capable, hard working, and dedicated counselors I have worked with. His selection as Georgia High School Counselor of the year is richly deserved. The entire Valdosta City School family is extremely proud of and proud for Georgia High School counselor Brian Law.”

Law was selected for his advocacy, leadership and success in secondary school counseling. Among his accomplishments listed at the high school level are: CAT CAMP, a summer transition program for rising 9th graders; Teens Against Bullying, an anti bullying program between Valdosta City Schools, Lowndes County Schools and other stakeholders; WEPALS, an elementary mentoring program using VHS football players and visiting Jordan High School, Utah players to talk to Valdosta City elementary school students on being drug free, reading and staying in school; BIG CAT CARES, a program using VHS athletes to read to and carry a message to strive to be a leader to VCS elementary students; “Santa’s Elves”, an endeavor to collect Christmas gifts for needy children in the Valdosta City School System in cooperation with the Lowndes County Department of Family and Children Services and VHS employees, and implementing a “Career Planning Folder” for students in grades 6 to 12 to begin planning post-secondary options. Law is also a regular speaker and presenter at local, state and national school counseling meetings as well as the “Parent University” in conjunction with Valdosta City Schools, Lowndes County Schools and Moody AFB.

Law was recently selected by the College Board to serve on the National Office of School Counselor Advocacy Advisory board in Washington, DC. When asked of his future endeavors, Law states, “The only state awards that I have not worked towards are Middle School Counselor of the Year and Advocate/Supervisor of the year. In order to receive these accolades, one has to serve at least three years in the prospective fields. I never know where my career may take me, but I hope to one day be a Director of Student Services to serve school counselors and others who impact student success by helping these “helping professionals” remove the barriers to student achievement. Until then, I am happy working with my VHS students to be successful and guiding them to be future contributors to our economy. Already as a Top 10 School Counselor in the nation, I am “locked” out of this award for another five years. However, I plan to learn and grow each day in my commitment to education and helping students achieve.”

“Having my principal and his wife, a media specialist at Pine Grove Middle School in Lowndes County Schools along with the 2009 Valedictorian present in my acceptance of this honor for Valdosta City Schools meant more than I can say. The graduating Class of 2009 earmarked a milestone in my life. When I began school counseling in 2005-2006, I was comforting and helping these young children to learn to adapt to school as Pre K students. After moving to the high school level, the class of 2009 was my first group of freshman that I helped through graduation as their counselor and class advisor. It also earmarked my 20th class reunion as a graduate of Turner County High School class of 2009. I am indeed humble for my growth as an educator over these twenty years,” states Law.

Law is a part-time adjunct professor at Valdosta State University teaching graduate school counseling students in the Department of Psychology and Counseling, Immediate Past President of Georgia School Counselors Association and President-Elect of the American School Counselors Association. Along with a state counselor of the year plaque, Law received a personal check for $500.00 from the Georgia Education Articulation Committee (PROBE) and an additional $1000.00 scholarship to award to a deserving graduate of the VHS Class of 2010.

Jennifer J. Steedley
Director of Public Relations
Valdosta City Schools
1204 Williams Street