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2021 School Counselors, Social Worker of the Year
2021 School Counselors, Social Worker of the Year
Posted on 10/08/2021
Congratulations to the 2020-21 BCS School Counselors and Social Worker of the Year, who tirelessly support and advocate for their students!Pictured are Angie Brock, top left, Kristin Keliher, top right, Colleen McKay, bottom left, and Michelle Wagaman.

By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Congratulations to the 2020-21 BCS School Counselors and Social Worker of the Year who tirelessly support and advocate for their students!

At the Oct. 7, 2021, Buncombe County Board of Education meeting, BCS Student Services Director David Thompson honored Social Worker of the Year Angie Brock, High School Counselor of the Year Michelle Wagaman, Middle School Counselor of the Year Kristin Keliher, and Elementary/Intermediate School Counselor of the Year Colleen McKay.

“These individuals have been recognized by their peers for outstanding service to our families during a year and a half of extremely difficult transitions and challenges,” said David Thompson, director of BCS Student Services. “I really commend them for what they’ve done, how they’ve supported our staff, how they’ve supported our students, and how they have risen with such a positive attitude to do their jobs every day with dedication and commitment.”

These four honorees epitomize how BCS school counselors and social workers rose to the challenges of COVID-19, he said. They designed instruction around coping skills and resilience skills, provided short-term counseling and referrals to mental health providers, and they continue to go above and beyond to make sure families have what they need.

“They’ve delivered food and taken supplies out to our families,” he said. “They’ve worked to provide connections to all the resources that are necessary for students to come to school and be able to focus. These four people are very compassionate and caring, providing their staff and students with that open communication and support any time it’s needed.”

Angie BrockSCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR – Angie Brock, Haw Creek Elementary and Fairview Elementary

Ms. Brock has been a BCS social worker since 2018 after entering the field in 2016. She builds key connections among school staff and families and serves as an integral part of the A.C. Reynolds community.

“School social workers are mental health professionals that provide services to students, families, and school personnel to promote the academic and social success of students,” she said. “We are trained to assess and identify social, academic, emotional, behavioral, or physical needs of students and provide interventions to address those needs.”

Those interventions include outreach to students and families through home visits, advocacy and support of students involved with outside state and community agencies, crisis intervention, and many other crucial services, Ms. Brock said.

“We are a vital link between the home, school, and community,” she said. “It is a great privilege to be part of such an outstanding group of school social workers, and I am so honored to receive this recognition. It truly is a joy to work in a field that helps students and families to overcome barriers at school and at home and to partner with them in their child's academic growth and success.”

Michelle WagamanHIGH SCHOOL COUNSELOR OF THE YEAR – Michelle Wagaman, T.C. Roberson High

Ms. Wagaman has been a school counselor at T.C. Roberson since 2013 after starting as the varsity volleyball coach in 2011. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, and that has helped her make broad connections to stakeholders in the school community.

“I really want families to know that they have someone at school that they can reach out to,” she said. “We want to get everyone connected and have a voice in our school. I think that school counselors can be that person to help connect the school and families with different resources or information when they may not know who to ask. We are here to support them.

Ms. Wagaman thanked her colleagues and school administrators for supporting her and helping her grow in her counseling role.

“I am so appreciative to work alongside them,” she said. “They have taught me so much. I would never have dreamed of getting an award like this without their support.”

Kristin KeliherMIDDLE SCHOOL COUNSELOR OF THE YEAR – Kristin Keliher, A.C. Reynolds Middle School

Ms. Keliher has been a school counselor with BCS for eight years, starting at Pisgah Elementary and moving to Reynolds Middle (ACRMS) in 2019. She supports her students both individually at the school and as a whole by connecting with political representatives.

“I make it a point to advocate on the state level, by attending Legislative Day in Raleigh and meeting with my representatives so I can show them data from schools and recommend and encourage them to pass legislation that supports public education,” she said. “On a micro level I meet with students individually or in small groups that may be struggling academically, socially, or emotionally and support them. We explore possible solutions, learn new coping skills, practice relaxation techniques, and I teach them about how their brain functions under stress and ways to build resiliency.”

Ms. Keliher was shocked to be honored out of so many amazing BCS middle school counselors.

“I am excited to be recognized by my peers for the work I have done and continue to do for ACRMS, BCS, and public education as a whole in NC,” she said. “It always feels good to be seen for the work you do.”

Colleen McKayELEMENTARY/INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL COUNSELOR OF THE YEAR – Colleen McKay, Charles T. Koontz Intermediate

Ms. McKay has been a school counselor for eight years, spending the last four at Koontz. She believes her job is all about making connections.

“We work in conjunction with the many systems that support the growth and development of the student academically as well as socially and emotionally,” she said. “We provide support to students that allow them to develop skills in areas such as communication, problem solving, emotional regulation, and empathy. We engage students to explore and grow who they are and what they value in a safe and nurturing environment. We collaborate with school staff, administration, parents, and guardians and the community to help students achieve success and what that success looks like for them. School counselors work hard to develop a collaborative program that provides a safe place where our students can go to be heard, to discover what they are feeling, and to discover themselves. To me, that is invaluable.”

She thanked her colleagues and other staff members who work with her every day to nurture student growth.

“Without the love and connections they have with the students, my job would be that much harder,” she said. “I am blessed to be able to do what I do and look forward to each day.”

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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