Seminole Ridge High School counselor Dr. Melissa Garcia has been named Florida’s School Counselor of the Year.
“I cannot put into words how this makes me feel,” Garcia said. “I mean, the entire state of Florida. It’s a dream come true.”
The honor is well deserved. Garcia, a Wellington High School graduate, has spent her career in Palm Beach County schools gaining her experience to help high school students, including graduate work at Seminole Ridge and counselor work at Lake Worth High School and Santaluces High School.
Returning to SRHS three years ago, her career has come full circle. “It felt like coming home,” she said. “I had all of this training and experience I could bring back.”
At SRHS, she oversees the college and career readiness of the students. Garcia said that putting in the effort to help her students prepare for college and career, one of the School District Strategic Plan initiatives, is a challenge that she embraces.
Among the things that Garcia and the team have made happen at SRHS is College Application Week. Every senior was given the opportunity to use the media center’s computers, get staff assistance with the application process and apply to at least one college.
“It can be a difficult process for students and parents, so we want to help them at least get through one,” Garcia said. “And by Oct. 31, we had assisted more than 500 seniors apply to college.”
Taking on big projects made Garcia ready to apply for the Counselor of the Year.
Traditionally, the award sends each state’s honoree to Washington, D.C., to be honored at the White House, but with the transition of administrations, that is uncertain. She plans to apply for the national award.
Garcia returns to SRHS from maternity leave after the holidays for the second semester.
“Some people think I am crazy for wanting to counsel high school students,” she said. “I tell them, ‘Heck no!’ I love my kids!”
ABOVE: Melissa Garcia