Three school counselors were recently honored with Counselor of the Year honors after being selected by their peers. Wendy Williford from Montevallo Elementary School, April Tolbert from Helena Middle School, and Cheryl Allen from Montevallo High School were named the winners of Elementary, Middle, and High Counselor of the Year awards on June 1 at the district’s annual Counselor Transition Training Meeting.
Kim Bailey, supervisor of counseling and testing for Shelby County Schools, said nominations for the Counselor of the Year awards are made anonymously by principals and other counselors. Ballots with descriptive information about each nominee are provided to all counselors across the district, who then vote for a winner from all three grade spans.
“Ms. Williford is an exceptional counselor,” said MES Principal Allison Campbell. “She consistently goes above and beyond to serve the students of MES. Not only is she a constant positive resource for our students, the staff and parents reach out to her as well.
“She is such a positive force within our school as she works to find ways to brighten the days of all she encounters,” Campbell continued. “Our students have many needs and while it can be overwhelming at times, Ms. Williford is able to manage it all beautifully. She does a great job managing those tasks required of her but goes above and beyond on a daily basis.”
HMS Principal Scott Knight said that Tolbert is one of the hardest working people in the building. He especially noted her willingness to spend hours over the summer going over the master schedule and making sure every student is in the very best class for them.
“She works tirelessly for our students and staff and goes over and beyond her job description,” Knight said. “April is quite possibly one of the hardest working people that I know. Her approachability, knowledge, intuition and insight are all just part of what makes her a great counselor. The love that she has for all of our students is outstanding. Those students who are struggling with peers, family, or financial situations are dear to her heart. April is going to do her very best to make sure that every child is taken care of at school and home. We at HMS would be lost without her.”
Knight said Tolbert is a role model to many, always showing compassion, love and kindness to every student she comes in contact with. She will also give students a little dose of reality when they need it, but always in a very motherly and loving way.
“She is as cool, calm, and collective as they come,” Knight said. “Staff can go to her with anything and know that they will get an honest and thoughtful opinion. April does not quit – she sees every task through to the end and when she says she will do something, she always comes through.”
Allen was also described as a very hard worker, most notably for the work she does as Montevallo High School’s only counselor. While some larger high schools have a team of counselors, often one per grade level, Allen was credited for doing the amount of work of three counselors quite effortlessly. She was also credited with being a very capable, conscientious, and organized counselor who relates well to students, parents, and staff.
“There are actually several reasons to nominate Ms. Allen,” said MHS Principal Brandon Turner. “She attends to her job with a high-level work ethic that exhibits quality and professionalism. Whether it is testing, scheduling, or attending to tasks for students, she consistently completes her duties in a way that exemplifies our expectations and values for MHS. Frankly, she is invaluable as a resource here to faculty and staff, parents, and most importantly, our students. It is rare to have an employee that excels in every aspect of his or her job. Ms. Allen, however, accomplishes such a feat.”