APS Counselors Empower Our Students

Please join Atlanta Public Schools in celebrating school counselors February 2 – 6, 2015. National School Counseling Week is a time to honor the unique contributions of professional school counselors within U.S. school systems. This recognition is sponsored by the American School Counselor Association and highlights the impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

APS currently employs 111 school counselors.

Please join us in recognizing just a few of the many talented individuals who support APS, allowing the district to fulfill its mission to help every student graduate ready for college and career.

Ms. Sonya Wright is an elementary school counselor at Burgess Peterson Academy and Whitefoord Elementary.
Ms. Sonya Wright is an elementary school counselor at Burgess Peterson Academy and Whitefoord Elementary.

Ms. Sonya Wright is a native Atlantan and graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the historic Tuskegee University, a Master of Arts from Clark Atlanta University and an Educational Specialist certification from The State University of West Georgia.

Ms. Wright believes academic, college/career and personal/social development are

essential to the soul. “One of the most rewarding aspects of being a school counselor is knowing I am able to teach life skills that can empower, change and enhance lives forever,” said Ms. Wright.

Her work on the local school level supports that belief. Ms. Wright has coordinated initiatives that support student achievement, such as school-wide mentoring, career exploration, college and career readiness, leadership, transitional, conflict resolution and mediation programs. She has served as a school counselor on the middle and high school levels and is currently an elementary school counselor at Burgess Peterson Academy and Whitefoord Elementary.

She is a Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society Member, Nationally Certified Counselor, and American School Counseling Association Member. She is a past president of the Georgia School Counselors Association and has also served in various additional leadership roles with GSCA.

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, travelling and scrapbooking.

Dr. Sheryl Neely is a school counselor at Frederick Douglass High School and is the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Education Counselor of the Year.
Dr. Sheryl Neely is a school counselor at Frederick Douglass High School and is the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Education Counselor of the Year.

Dr. Sheryl Neely has been an educator for over 20 years. She earned her counseling degree and Doctorate in Education from the University of West Alabama. She currently serves on the APS Career and Technical Education Advisory Board as a counselor representative.

Dr. Neely is a school counselor at Frederick Douglass High School and is the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Education Counselor of the Year.

Working to ensure that the students she serves are well aware of post-secondary opportunities and career and technical education pathway offerings, Dr. Neely is dedicated to continuous improvement in guidance and counseling and attributes her success to a positive response to change, a commitment to professional growth, and a genuine and kind heart.

In addition to her counseling duties, Dr. Neely has led a student engineering design team to qualify for the Georgia Tech SECME National Engineering competition at the University of Alabama.

Dr. Neely is a member of various professional organizations, including the National Office of School Counselor Advocacy, (where she was nominated for the Counselor Partnership Award), the American Association of School Counselors, the Georgia School Counselor Association, the Georgia Association of Career and Technical Education and the Association of Career and Technical Education.

Dr. Sheryl Neely resides in Hampton, Georgia and is married to Mr. Dexter Neely an aircraft mechanic and has one daughter who is a nurse, a son-in-law and three grandchildren.

Dr. Vernita Byrd has been a school counselor since 1995 and currently serves the students at Ralph Johnson Bunche Middle School.
Dr. Vernita Byrd has been a school counselor since 1995 and currently serves the students at Ralph Johnson Bunche Middle School.

Dr. Vernita Byrd’s career as an education advocate for children spans more than thirty years. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Morris Brown College, holds master’s degrees in Special Education and School Counseling from Clark Atlanta University, a Specialist’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University and a Doctor of Education from Northcentral University.

Dr. Byrd has been a school counselor since 1995 and currently serves the students at Ralph Johnson Bunche Middle School.

“I love that I am in a position to wear many hats,” said Dr. Byrd.

She has served previously as Homeless Liaison for APS, Crisis Intervention Contact Counselor for the West Region and been named APS Counselor of the Year and Teacher of the Year.

Her most gratifying moments are being remembered by students. “I was once in a restaurant and noticed that a young lady begin staring, I wondered why, but couldn’t put my finger on it. Before she left the restaurant she came over to tell me how she appreciated me so much for always expressing the importance of attending college and how important it is to become educated which has allowed her to control her own destiny. She went on to say that she was an education major and would be completing her degree at the end of this year. As sentimental as I am, I controlled the tears, but barely. How special is that to actually see your work with students unfold and become a reality in their lives,” Dr. Byrd recalled.

Dr. Byrd says the following quote by educator Kathy Davis best describes her life philosophy and passion for serving children:

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”

Please join APS this week in honoring the important work of all our school counselors!

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