SCHOOLS | November 27, 2018
CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson joined more than 600 Jones College Prep students, teachers and staff as they surprised school counselor Brian Coleman at a special assembly Tuesday, Nov. 27. He was named “School Counselor of the Year” by the American School Counselor Association.
— ChicagoPublicSchools (@ChiPubSchools) November 27, 2018
“I’m still convinced that I’m dreaming and nothing that has happened in the last 10 minutes has been real,” he said after the surprise.
This is the second consecutive year that a Chicago Public Schools counselor has been given the national award.
Coleman was one of six finalists, nationwide, who were nominated based on their ability to create systemic change within the profession through leadership, collaboration and advocacy.
He has been a counselor at Jones since 2014 and currently chairs the school’s counseling department.
Coleman said he takes a holistic approach to school counseling that includes advocating for expanded education and knowledge for students and staff.
“As a school with [the word] college in our name, there tends to be a great deal of focus and energy placed exclusively on students’ college and postsecondary planning processes,” Coleman said. “However, we have worked to create a broader awareness that students’ holistic well-being is just as important to their current and future successes.”
Vice Principal Therese Plunkett said that Coleman has a “strong commitment to ensuring the school provides interdisciplinary social/emotional learning supports for all students.”
Coleman is the faculty sponsor of the school’s LGBTQA+ student organization, JonesPride. That role made him aware of student issues such as relationship support and inclusive language for gender and sexual minorities, he said. He worked with the Student Government Association to spearhead a revised sexual health education program for nearly 400 sophomores.
“With Mr. Coleman’s help, we were able to take the necessary actions that have allowed our school to include more hours of sexual education into our health curriculum,” said high school senior, Sheryl Ordonez. “The program’s success is leading to potential expansion opportunities to freshman, junior and senior students.”
Coleman, who earned his Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) designation in 2017, collaborated with the school to create an extensive social/emotional programming for freshmen.
“Brian is truly talented and deeply committed to building a more just society through education,” said LaToya Hudson-Spells, former colleague and school counseling department co-chair at Jones College Prep. “He has done so much for our school community in his short tenure as a school counselor.”
Prior to choosing this profession, Coleman was once an actor. It was while performing with the About Face Theater Company and working with their youth program, that he said he found his love for education and students. Today, he’s a graduate of Northwestern University and DePaul University, with a master’s degree in education.
He said he recognized that serving as a school counselor would give him daily opportunities to “support, validate and affirm the next generation of leaders and change agents.”
English teacher, David Gilmer, shared his thoughts on Coleman.
“Brian is a school counselor who not only currently represents the best the profession has to offer, but who also will continue to set the bar high, even if it means moving in new directions,” he said.
Coleman and the other School Counselor of the Year finalists will be in Washington, D.C., Jan. 30–Feb. 1, 2019, where they will be honored and formally recognized at a black‐tie gala.