5 Best Practices from 3 National School Counselors of the Year

Join CharacterStrong and industry experts as we share "5 Best Practices from 3 National School Counselors of the Year." During the webinar, we'll discuss how to equip school counselors with the tools necessary to leverage systemic change in buildings, districts and states while using National School Counseling Week as a platform for celebrating and advocating for student success.

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Laura Ross


Laura Ross is the lead counselor at Five Forks Middle School in Lawrenceville, Georgia where her focus is connecting with students to connect them to their education. She has been a school counselor for almost 16 years. Laura was an elementary school counselor for 8 years and is in her 8th year as a middle school counselor. She has presented at district, state, and national levels on creating school-wide teacher-student connections, integrating academics into counseling lessons, using technology and data in school counseling, creating counseling lessons with a social justice and equity lens, and more. Laura’s school counseling blog about creating connections with students at www.theconnectingcounselor.com, will be back from hiatus in 2022 along with a brand new YouTube channel. Laura was the 2020 American School Counselor Association (ASCA) School Counselor of the Year. She serves on the Georgia School Counselor Association (GSCA) Executive Board as President-Elect and is a leader in her school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools, collaborating on committees with focuses on middle school counselor professional development, civic engagement, social-emotional learning, teen lures curriculum, student discipline, and equity. She is also a Counselors for Computing consultant and Girl Talk DEI Committee member.

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Cory Notestine


Cory Notestine spent the last 14 years working in rural and urban school settings across North Carolina and Colorado as a school counselor and district leader. Over the past 7 years he's led successful district-wide SEL curriculum adoption and implementation; redesigned and integrated MTSS teaming, protocols, and service delivery; and created a behavioral matrix that was student-centered and restorative in nature. He is passionate about thoughtful and timely change management, the intersection of politics and education, and how to identify high-leverage action items to increase successful implementation.

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Katherine Pastor


Kat has passionately served as a student and educator advocate for over 20 years in the roles of coach, student council advisor, school counselor at the secondary level and financial aid counselor/coordinator of student employment and adjunct professor at the post-secondary level. Through Kat’s leadership, her school counseling department received both state and national recognition, including ASCA RAMP recognition in 2020. Kat has facilitated professional development and learning with various state and national associations, along with individual schools and districts. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Masters in Education in Student Affairs and School Counseling from Northern Arizona University. Kat was named the ASCA 2016 School Counselor of the Year and Northern Arizona University’s President’s Alumni Awardee in 2021.

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Emily Rose


Emily Rose is CharacterStrong's Elementary Specialist. She worked as a School Counselor for 7 years, 6 of which were at a school recognized as a National School of Character. She was recognized for her student-led podcast and newscast.

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