South Davis Junior High wins Counseling Team of the YearJun 06, 2022 01:46PM ● By Hannah Sandorf Davis
The South Davis Junior High counseling team was selected as Counseling Team of the Year by the Utah School Counselor Association. “Our school counselors work incredibly hard and care deeply about our students,” said South Davis Principal Justin Whittaker. “They absolutely deserved to win this award.” The team includes three members, Mallory Martin, Megan Woodbury, and Madison Stanger. All three team members attended Utah State University where they received a Masters in Psychology and Education with an emphasis in school counseling.
To meet award criteria the counseling team must demonstrate its experience in several areas including career and college readiness facilitation, professional development, and helping students who might be struggling in school. “Our biggest role as school counselors is to be an advocate for the students,” said Martin. “We want to help every student succeed by finding resources for their individual needs. Each student’s needs are different and require different approaches.”
For Martin, this one-on-one approach to student success is what drew her toward school counseling. “I had worked with teens and children in residential treatment and others with special needs. It was great work but I wanted to work with students individually and school counseling helps me do that,” she said.
The South Davis counseling team is also the only one in the state to have pursued and received Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) status from the American School Counseling Association (ASCA). “This means that the counseling team has demonstrated all the standards and competencies of being a nationally recognized counseling program,” said Whittaker. According to ASCA, only 1,200 schools across the United States have received this certification so far. Schools that receive RAMP certification must apply again after a period of five years to ensure they still meet recognition criteria.
On their website, ASCA states that RAMP schools offer greater job satisfaction to school counselors and a more robust model of student engagement. This helps counselors to find data-driven information and programs that lead to increased student success. “Putting together a strong RAMP certified program definitely helped with us winning Counseling Team of the Year,” said Martin. “We already had a strong data-driven base and had put in the time to help students achieve their goals.”
Martin said the best part of being recognized as the Counseling Team of the Year was knowing the school had strong support from administration. “Principal Whittaker nominated us for this award. He has been really supportive of our approach and us seeking out RAMP certification,” she said. A supportive principle, said Martin, can make the difference in helping school counselors to make positive connections with students and building data-driven programs.
Martin is the newest member of the team with 2021-2022 being her first year as a school counselor. “I feel lucky to be working with Megan and Madison, they have been great colleagues to learn from,” she said. Megan Woodbury has the most experience with school counseling and was the primary team member pursing RAMP certification. “Megan put in so much work to help us become certified,” said Martin. l