Baldwin native Carletta Hurt has been named the District of Columbia representative for the 2016 School Counselor of the Year program.
The award is presented by the American School Counselor Association and given to outstanding counselors across the country.
The state school counselor associations submit nominations for the School Counselor of the Year awards program.
State representatives were selected based on several criteria, such as school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership and advocacy skills and contributions to student advancement.
“When I got the news I was so excited. I completely lost it. Ever since I applied for it I had been stressing about whether or not I would get it, but when the final word came in I can’t even describe how good it felt,” Hurt said in a phone interview.
Hurt now resides in Maryland but was born and raised in Baldwin County.
“My parents still live there. I remember going to elementary school when it used to be out on the main highway there — North Columbia Street,” she said as she reminisced about her childhood.
The School Counselor of the Year program honors the professionals who devote their careers to serving as advocates for the nation’s students, helping them achieve success in school and in life.
With almost two decades of experience in education and the last five serving the students of DC, Hurt brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and passion to the field, officials noted in a press release.
Although entering the field of school counseling did not come to Hurt right away at the start of her educational pursuit, she feels it was her calling.
“I originally was going to be an accountant. I had all my scholarships lined up and everything. When I was 19, I came home and became the director of a youth summer program, and that’s when I fell in love with connecting with young minds,” Hurt said.
She then changed her career path and started taking classes in education.
Hurt received her bachelor’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University.
She then proceeded toward her Masters and Educational Specialist degrees from Georgia State University.
After teaching for several years, she realized she wanted to make more of an impact on students, beyond what the classroom environment provided.
“I was a really good teacher, strict and abided by the policies and rules of the classroom, but I wanted to do more than just my teacher duties. I wanted to make a bigger impact on the students’ lives. My assistant principal suggested that perhaps I should consider going into the counseling profession, and it really opened my eyes to a lot,” she said.
As a school counselor, Hurt said she is able to provide students with more guidance and options in their lives than when she was a teacher.
She said being a school counselor has taught her about empathy and to never take the smallest gestures for granted.
“You can do one small thing for a child, and it can have the greatest of impacts on that student. I learned not to take the little things I do for granted because those little things add up for that child in need of your help.”
State representatives from around the country, along with Hurt, will go to Washington, DC in January for a special reception with First Lady Michelle Obama and a formal ceremony later that evening at historic Union Station.
Hurt has decided to take her mother as her guest.
“When I found out about it, I was really more excited for my mother than for myself,” she said. “She grew up in the ‘50s and the ‘60s, so for her to be able to have a chance to visit the White House is really exciting.”
Hurt has been a member of the American School Counselor Association since college and she is honored to be part of the organization.
“I’ve been a member since grad school, and I’m really thankful for all the group has done for me and has taught me. I’m honored to be recognized for this award,” she said.
The American School Counselor Association is a nonprofit professional organization that promotes student success by expanding the image and influence of professional school counseling.
For more information, visit www.schoolcounselor.org.