CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A Cape Girardeau school counselor learned she is the top counselor in the nation.
Jefferson Elementary School Counselor Olivia Carter was named National Counselor of the Year on Friday morning, December 4.
Carter was surprised with the award by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).
“I’m still pretty shocked about it, but its very exciting to be able to say that,” said Carter. “I love working at JE and doing the things that I do, but to be recognized for it is very special.”
No one at Jefferson Elementary knew she was getting the top honor.
Students and staff were expecting a presentation from students in the gym about how they can spread holiday cheer, but at the end, a surprise video announced that Carter was named 2021 National Counselor of the Year.
“It’s a deserving honor for Ms. Carter and something incredible for the entire Cape Girardeau community to celebrate,” said Girardeau Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Neil Glass.
Friends, family and school administration were all let in on the secret to help surprise Carter with the big honor.
After the assembly, school board members spent about 30 minutes as substitute teachers so the rest of the school staff could celebrate Carter’s achievement. They were all treated with free coffee.
According to the ASCA, the annual top award honors professionals who devote their careers to advocating for the nation’s students and addressing their academic, career and social/emotional development.
Carter was recognized by the ASCA for her trauma-informed implementation at Jefferson Elementary and increased emphasis on career exploration.
“Quite simply, Olivia has a gift to reach our most traumatized students,” said colleague Kandee Oliver. “Creating and building trust, chipping away at hurts and heartaches, inspiring and uplifting, Olivia pieces together an environment for our students that surrounds them like a comfortable old quilt.”
The Jefferson Elementary held a parade for Carter when she was named one of only five finalists from across the country for the award.
This isn’t the first time Carter has been honored for her dedication.
She was also named Missouri Counselor of the Year in 2019.
Carter has been a school counselor for nine years, including five at Jefferson elementary.