Three School Counselors Recognized with Top Honors
Three staff members have been honored with 2018–2019 Counselor of the Year awards. The three—one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels—were recognized at the May 30 Board of Education business meeting.
This year’s winners are:
Julie Tanen, Meadow Hall Elementary School
For 10 years, Julie Tanen has been a counselor at Meadow Hall. Previously, she spent nine years teaching in the preschool program at Maryvale Elementary School. Her positive impact extends far beyond the guidance lessons she presents in the classroom because of the strong connections she makes with students and their families. She is described as a superb leader with a passion for student well-being. At the core of her work is the belief that every student can succeed in school, and her efforts are focused on removing barriers to student success. She chairs the school’s PBIS ‘High Five’ discipline program, and created a collaborative problem solving system that has impacted students’ availability for learning and their subsequent academic success. She creates and oversees 504 plans for students and uses a data tracking system to create a check-in/check-out daily program with students in need of extra behavioral social emotional support. She has developed an extensive website that shares best practices, resources and strategies. She has also secured counseling resources for students through the City of Rockville. She manages a staff-to-student mentoring program, and a Rockville volunteer mentoring after-school program. She also serves as the Safety Patrol sponsor; mentors new and student-intern counselors; and is a director in the George B. Thomas Sr. Learning Academy. “She is a person who truly makes a difference in children’s lives,” says Meadow Hall Principal Cabell Lloyd.
Hilary Murphy, Francis Scott Key Middle School
A National Board Certified counselor, Hilary Murphy has been at Francis Scott Key since 2016. Colleagues says that she shares a variety of strategies and best practices for building relationships with students, and supports the social emotional needs of all students. She has been an advocate for restorative justice practices as a way to address, redirect and repair staff and student relationships. She coordinated professional learning to build the capacity of staff to implement de-escalating strategies, and positive behavior interventions and supports. Her one-on-one support of individual students has led to fewer referrals and behavioral challenges for her small groups. She also developed the IDENTITY program at Key to create a safe space for LGBTQ students and for students struggling with racial identity. She organized college tours for students. She keeps an open door policy, and is always willing to pull together a parent meeting or offer a shoulder when a student needs advice or a moment to regroup. She uses data to evaluate the effectiveness of programming and serves as a mentor to students, guiding them in advocating for themselves and in offering recommendations for helping them excel. She has facilitated trainings for her colleagues around the school’s focus on equity. She works tirelessly to maintain open communication and connections with parents, inviting them in for Coffee with the Counselor, or meeting with them after school. “She should be proud of not only her students’ achievements, but [also of] the key role she plays in shaping our children and our future,” a parent wrote.
David Mullaney, Quince Orchard High School
David Mullaney is not one to sit at a desk, but is most often found in the hallways and classrooms. It’s just one of the ways he’s able to create and maintain warm relationships with students and staff. He is described as a kind leader who is extremely dedicated; a colleague says “he’s always early, always leaves late and spends at least part of each weekend making sure he’s on top of everything before the new week begins.” He constantly looks for new ways to instill the desire to learn in students, while also advocating for equity. Among the programs he has spearheaded: anxiety identification and prevention lessons and Cultivating an Understanding of Student Potential (CUSP). Anxiety identification and prevention lessons were turned into a schoolwide intervention; students were given pertinent information to help them develop coping strategies and understand warning signs. With the CUSP program, Mullaney led the development of a robust curriculum through which college tours and speakers were incorporated, to introduce opportunities to students who may not have realized they had options. He stays on top of the latest technology as a way to help students succeed. He encourages the department to use Remind and Twitter to connect directly with students, families and staff, and recently began using a counseling database to help counselors meet students’ needs through data collection and academic intervention targeting. Outside school, he’s a musician, published writer, world traveler, baseball enthusiast and animal lover.
The School Counselor of the Year Awards highlight the contributions of professional school counselors within MCPS. Nominees must be counselors who understand the individual needs of students, encourage their talents and foster their self-esteem; foster collaborative relationships with colleagues, students and their families; instill in students a desire to learn and achieve while advocating for equity; and use technology to enhance student learning.