HONOLULU — Shely Chang of Kaimiloa Elementary School in ‘Ewa Beach was recognized as the 2024 American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) Hawai‘i School Counselor of the Year in the annual National School Counselor of the Year ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 1.
“I am so very honored to have been recognized for this amazing award as I know that there are so many counselors and educators to choose from who, like me, have the passion and devote their time to helping our children,” Chang said. “This award not only signifies my passion and dedication, but my school and school team, because without them I wouldn't be able to do what I do.”
Chang was instrumental in developing a School Attendance Review Team (SART) at Kaimiloa Elementary to combat chronic absenteeism. The SART team looks at attendance data from previous years and current attendance data to determine which families might need additional support to get students to school on a daily basis. Members of the SART team – which include school administration, school counselors, a social worker and family court officers – meet twice a month with families to determine the best route to encourage school attendance for the family.
“School counselors are vital to the success of our Hawai‘i public school system,” Superintendent Keith Hayashi said. “The Department is grateful to have counselors like Ms. Chang, who are dedicated to elevating students' academic and social-emotional development. Her commitment to cultivating a nurturing and supportive learning environment for students has helped to foster positive learning environments where our students can thrive. Congratulations on this outstanding achievement.”
Chang has been a school counselor since 2005 and is a graduate of Pearl City High School. She attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where she earned both her bachelor's in ethnic studies and master's in school counseling. She also recently received her National Board Certification in School Counseling.
She and her colleagues will be presenting at the annual national ASCA conference this July in Kansas City, Mo., about implementing the SART program at their school.
The ASCA School Counselor of the Year award honors professionals who devote their careers to advocating for the nation’s students and addressing their academic and social-emotional development and college and career readiness needs. Honorees were judged based on their ability to create systemic change within the school counseling profession.
ASCA is celebrating 2024 National School Counseling Week from Feb. 5-9. The goal of the week is to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems, and to highlight the tremendous impact schools counselors have on helping students achieve success. For more information about ASCA, click here.