Indian Knoll Elementary School Counselor Colleen DeLosh deeply understands the struggles of the students she serves.
Not only did she, of course, attend school like them, but she also as a young person experienced her parents’ divorce, moving and a sibling’s drug addiction — all issues that make life even more challenging for her own students.
Both of her parents were good listeners, but DeLosh needed a “neutral” party to confide in, lean on and learn from … and she found that person in a school counselor.
“Her impact on my life during a difficult time, at such a young age, has propelled me to want to be that person for the students I work with on a regular basis,” said the 18-year educator, who has worked as a counselor at Indian Knoll since 2011. “She was someone with whom I could share how I really felt during the many transitions in my life and not have to worry if I was hurting their feelings or saying something I shouldn’t be saying…and she is just as much a driving force in my life today as she was then.”
This focus on supporting the individual child, coupled with her education, experience and dedication to continuously enhancing and expanding programs for her school, led her colleagues to name her the Sequoyah Innovation Zone’s Counselor of the Year… and for Superintendent Brian Hightower to surprise her Tuesday with the honor that she’s the Cherokee County School District 2019 Counselor of the Year.
Hightower said her impressive application makes clear why the judging committee of retired educators and community leaders selected her for the honor.
“I am so impressed with all she does: Response to Intervention, 504 special needs plans, the school food pantry, yearbook, small group counseling, attendance incentives, holiday toy drives, and the Seven Mindset Faculty group she created this year,” he said. “She’s just done a phenomenal job.”
The presentation and a reception at her school’s faculty meeting, which also were attended by her family, were sponsored by Credit Union of Georgia, a CCSD Partner. Credit Union of Georgia sponsored gifts including an iPad for DeLosh, as well as a $50 gift card for her and each of the Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year, which will be presented to them at the April 18 school board meeting. Deputy Superintendent Trey Olson and Principal Kim Cerasoli also joined in the ceremony.
“Colleen is a valued member of our school leadership team,” Principal Cerasoli said. “She is fully deserving of this award, extremely experienced, and a self-starter. Most importantly, she sets the example and shows compassion and positive character every day at Indian Knoll Elementary School.”
DeLosh in her remarks thanked Principal Cerasoli, fellow school counselor Lori Waycaster and her colleagues.
“Lori and I started at this school together, and we just love all of you here and all the kids who attend here,” said DeLosh, who earned her education degree from Barry University, a master’s in school guidance and counseling from Nova Southeastern University and a specialist in education in professional counseling and supervision from the University of West Georgia.
The award process begins with each Innovation Zone (high school and feeder elementary and middle schools) selecting a Counselor of the Year. Applications from these honorees then are considered by a panel of retired educators and community leaders, who select the CCSD Counselor of the Year.