Michelle Obama can still give a great speech and she used those skills recently during a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in honor of Kirsten Perry, the 2018 School Counselor of the Year. Perry works at Lawndale Community Academy, a PreK-8 school that is on the rise. Attendance is up, fights between students are down, and its academic standing has been on an upward trajectory.
We know where the real work of changing kids’ lives happens. It happens on the ground, in classrooms, and communities, and in those face-to-face, heart-to-heart interactions between our kids and caring educators and counselors, like the folks on this stage.
Lawndale Principal Willard Willette said in a statement that Perry’s “tireless work to improve attendance, increase community partnerships and revamp the school culture” has been central to the school’s improvement. Perry invited police officers to speak with students about gun laws, jail and community relations. She also helped students learn how to better communicate with each other.
Her former student, Kyla Evans, summed up Perry’s influence this way:
I would get in a lot of fights, too. Ms. Perry helped us to work on ourselves. We learned not to react to the small things and that if something was bothering us, we should talk it out. Ms. Perry has done a lot to help us. She makes all the kids at Lawndale feel loved and like we can do anything we dream of.