2023 Los Angeles County School Counselor and Mental Health Professional of the Year

Fri Oct 20 20:03:00 PDT 2023

LACOE Celebrates the 2022-2023 Los Angeles County School Counselor and Mental Health Professional of the Year

Downey, Calif. (Oct. 17, 2023) – Last week, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), which supports 80 school districts and their families, surprised the “2022-2023 School Counselor and School-Based Mental Health Professional of the Year” recipients at their school sites. Monica Afshar of John Glenn High School in the Norwalk-La Mirada School District was named the Los Angeles County School Counselor of the Year. Emily Cummins-Polk in the Lennox School District is this year’s Los Angeles County School Mental Health Professional of the Year.

Monica Afshar, a school counselor at John Glenn High School since 2015, states her school counseling philosophy is to meet her students where they are at and support them in growing at their own pace, through delivering counseling services with compassion, positivity and encouragement. Monica has the opportunity every day to transform lives through introducing and connecting her students to new educational opportunities at John Glenn.

Emily Cummins-Polk, a district social emotional wellness coordinator, serves as an advocate for social justice and conduit of systems change at her district. She launched and leads in a trauma focused wellness nonprofit called “Juntos” to provide mental health support and professional development to the staff and community. Her mission is to cultivate a network of supportive services and grassroots leadership that promotes safety, equity and wellness for children in the community of Lennox.

“Congratulations to Monica and Emily, this year's distinguished recipients. These dedicated individuals have developed the type of nurturing, secure and affirming school communities that have a profound impact on the wellbeing and academic success of our students,” said Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Duardo.

Both Monica and Emily were nominated by their peers because of their unwavering dedication and commitment to their students and districts.

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award! I would like to express my gratitude to the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Board of Education members, district leadership, and the administrators at John H. Glenn High School for their continuous support of our counseling department,” said Monica.

“I am truly honored and humbled by this recognition and I extend my sincere gratitude to the entire LACOE team for shining a spotlight on mental health services. Honoring school social work and school counseling is ultimately a win for our communities as it provides an opportunity to reflect and leverage the attention for the greater good” said Emily.

The award program was administered by LACOE’s Mental Health and School Counseling Unit (MHSC). MHSC focuses on the mental health and well-being of Los Angeles County’s educators and children. They offer services including:

·      consultation

·      coaching

·      technical assistance

·      professional development

·      interventions and support for at-promise students

Both Monica and Emily will be honored at an official awards banquet on November 29, 2023. For more information on LACOE, visit www.lacoe.edu.