Broward County Public Schools has voted one of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s guidance counselors, Rachel Kusher, as Broward Schools Counselor of the Year. She is now in the running for the Florida School Counselor of the Year award.
“We were partners our first year at MSD, and she was the perfect counselor with whom to be paired,” guidance counselor Michelle Chirichella said.
Before becoming a school guidance counselor at MSD, Kusher was a coordinator of school counseling for Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia. She was also a middle school counselor in previous years.
“My philosophy as an educator is to help students grow academically and socially/emotionally throughout their school experiences,” Kusher said. “I think building relationships and making connections with students, families and the school community is an important part of education and can be paramount in a child’s success throughout their life.”
Kusher has been involved in school counseling for 15 consecutive years and first began working at MSD three years ago. Kusher helps integrate social and emotional learning (SEL) with various newsletters for staff, mindfulness awareness for staff/students and classroom lessons via personalization.
The Broward Schools Counselor of the Year Recognition award acknowledges and shows appreciation for counselors who exceed expectations. Not only does the Broward Schools counseling website promote the achievement and hard work that these school counselors contribute, but they also explain services and programs offered to students. Kusher works mainly on the personal, social and emotional elements of students during her time at MSD.
“Every counselor in the district (about 500 of them) are able to be nominated. Our supervisors from the district ask for nominations and anyone can nominate a school counselor,” Kusher said. “Once nominated, I was asked to complete a series of questions relating to the work I do as a school counselor. Then, the candidates were chosen by the school counselors in the district via vote (they showed the answers to all of our questions for them to choose).”
Kusher believes that she truly would not be successful at what she does without the help of her fellow coworkers. She acknowledges the help she receives and could not be more thankful for all the assistance she has been given from each individual counselor.
“I am extremely fortunate to work with such an amazing group of counselors at MSD. I would not be able to be successful at my job without the work of Mrs. Ziccardi, the school counseling director or the other counselors on our team,” Kusher said.
Even in the short time Kusher has been a part of the MSD family, she still manages to maintain positive friendships and continues to provide academic and emotional counseling for students.
“I strive to make connections and advocate for students, families and fellow educators as a school counselor,” Kusher said.
As a school guidance counselor, it is Kusher’s responsibility to help students develop goals academically and evaluate strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, as well as deal with social and behavioral issues. She directly deals with the freshman and sophomore class students with last names from A-L and Personalization for Academic and Social Learning students.
“Kusher was very responsive and helpful during my transition of schedules,” freshman Jessie Gesund said. “She got back to me extremely fast and was very knowledgeable about what steps [we] needed to take to make my schedule change happen efficiently.”
Although many challenges have occurred due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Kusher is still extremely dedicated to helping her students. As the votes are being tallied, students and staff will have to wait to see who will be named the state’s Counselor of the Year on Nov. 5.