School Counselor Kelly Schalliol found success in her first career supporting the mental health of adults, but knew she could do more to help those in need.

If she counseled them as children, she realized, she “could make a longer-lasting impact.”

Eighteen years ago, Schalliol began her work as a school counselor, and 10 years ago, was chosen to help the Cherokee County School District open the Tippens Education Center. The program provides students, who are struggling with emotional and mental health issues, a place not only to learn academics, but also to receive additional counseling and therapeutic support and services.

Through Schalliol’s dedication, including her own continuing education to provide the best services possible, Tippens supports its students and helps many transition back to their regular school. “That is a very proud day,” she said of when it’s decided a student is ready to transition back, noting those moments are among her greatest accomplishments.

This spirit of care, compassion and continuous improvement led her colleagues to name Ms. Schalliol the Cherokee Innovation Zone’s Counselor of the Year … and for Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower to surprise her with the honor that she’s the Cherokee County School District 2020 Counselor of the Year.

“Kelly is a champion for every child she serves,” Dr. Hightower said. “She cares deeply about them and their families and was ahead of the curve on understanding the importance of social and emotional learning for every child. We appreciate Kelly, we are proud of her, and we congratulate her on this well-deserved honor!”

Credit Union of Georgia, a CCSD Partner, sponsored gifts including an iPad with case and an engraved plaque for Ms. Schalliol, as well as a $50 gift card for her and each of the Innovation Zone Counselors of the Year, which will be delivered to their schools. Chief Operations Officer Dr. Debra Murdock and Tippens Principal Kim Barger joined in the presentation.

“Kelly goes above and beyond in every aspect of her job,” Principal Barger said. “Kelly is the true north of our school. She is always able to point us in the right direction and help us find what we need.”

As the parent of one Tippens student shared: “Ms. Schalliol has been with us our entire journey. She has helped us understand and guided us to help our son grow and mature and meet goals. Without the love and understanding Ms. Schalliol has given us and my son, I do not think we would be anywhere as close [to transition] as we are today.”

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. Schalliol now advances to the statewide Counselor of the Year competition.

In addition to Schalliol for the Cherokee Innovation Zone (IZ), the other Zone winners are: Creekview IZ, Russ Means of Creekview HS; Etowah IZ, Janeen Bastin of Oak Grove ES Fine Arts Academy; River Ridge IZ, Michelle Giles of Johnston ES; Sequoyah IZ, Chris Guy of Holly Springs ES STEM Academy; and Woodstock IZ, Katherine McKechnie of Sixes ES.

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