OCDE honors school counselors for contributions and support during an unprecedented year

Congratulations to the 2021 Orange County School Counselor Recognition and School Counselor Advocate program awardees. Pictured from left to right – Row one: Jenny Thai, Jessica Sandoval, Julie Chutuk; Row two: Rosy Chavez, Nicol Jones, Kathryn White; Row three: Veronica Alvarez, Robert Stelmar, Laurie Tristan

Although the pandemic has once again canceled an in-person awards ceremony, that didn’t stop OCDE from honoring nine local school counselors for their dedication and commitment to Orange County students and families.

As we mentioned, National School Counseling Week is celebrated the first week in February to recognize school counselors’ unique contribution within our school systems. During this special week, the Orange County Department of Education recognizes exemplary school counselors and school counselor advocates from across the county who work tirelessly to support student success.

This year, the Orange County School Counselor Recognition Program and School Counselor Advocate Award Program recognized six incredible school counselors and three school counselor advocates. They are:

2021 School Counselor Recognition Awardees

  • Veronica Alvarez from Savanna High School, Anaheim Union High School District
  • Robert Stelmar from Brea Olinda High School, Brea Olinda Unified School District
  • Jessica Sandoval from Marco Forster Middle School, Capistrano Unified School District
  • Laurie Tristan from MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate School, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Julie Chutuk from Kinoshita Elementary School, Capistrano Unified School District
  • Rosy Chavez from Ponderosa Elementary School, Anaheim Elementary School District

2021 School Counselor Advocate Awardees

  • Jenni Thai, Counselor on Special Assignment from Capistrano Unified School District
  • Nicol Jones and Kathryn White, Officers of Parent Teacher Student Organization from Cerro Villa Middle School in Orange Unified School District

About the awards

The Orange County School Counselor Recognition Program was created in 2018 to honor counselors and their contributions to positive school climates and student success. Two years ago, awards were expanded to include those who advocate strongly on behalf of comprehensive counseling services. Each honoree demonstrated a high level of commitment in the following areas:

  • Commitment to develop and provide a comprehensive school counseling program within the American School Counselor Association’s three domains: academic, career and social/emotional development
  • Leadership and advocacy on behalf of the school counseling profession
  • Leadership and support of a Multi-Tiered System of Support through data-based decision making in order to support the whole child


To help celebrate National School Counseling Week, the American School Counselor Association has put together a toolkit equipped with resources for schools and districts to show support and appreciation for local counselors.

For additional information on the vital role school counselors play on campuses, check out the Role of the School Counselor by the American School Counselor Association.