Katerina Sorrell (MA '14)Katerina Sorrell, a 2014 graduate of Chapman University’s MA in School Counseling program in the Attallah College of Educational Studies, has received the 2021 National Certified School Counselor Award by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). NBCC created the NCSC Awards to recognize school counselors’ achievements and help promote the programs they are implementing with students, families, and communities.

2021 NCSC Awards

The 2021 NCSC particularly sought to recognize school counselors who invested extraordinary effort to meet the needs of students, families, and stakeholders in their school communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When announcing the 2021 awards, NBCC explained that each of the 10 recipients of the 2021 award “not only demonstrated an impressive and remarkable commitment to the well-being and development of their students, they have also put forth an extensive personal investment in the success of their school community.”

In its award announcement, NBCC explained that the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges children face, from food insecurity to stress and anxiety.

“During this challenging year, school counselors have continued to work diligently to identify resources and innovative ways to connect with students and families and provide needed services,” said NBCC President and CEO Kylie Dotson-Blake. “NBCC applauds their efforts and values their contributions.”

School Counseling During COVID-19

Sorrell is a “roving counselor” in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, serving five school campuses in the district. She says her role is to provide students with mental health and social-emotional intervention when necessary, but to prevent the need for such services when possible by promoting healthy thinking and behavior, in order to support academic performance.

“Counseling in this season of COVID-19 uncertainty has been both professionally challenging and personally rewarding,” said Sorrell. “For many of the families I serve, a lockdown pandemic was almost the last straw, adding a final layer of difficulty on top of family lives that were already struggling under the burden of financial hardship, relational instability, and emotional distress.”

To support her students and their families during fully remote instruction in the fall, Sorrell produced welcome and motivational videos and compiled online resources for students and parents on her website, MyKidCounselor.com. She also collaborated with other Saddleback Valley USD counselors to develop original virtual programs for thousands of students and their families at the 15 elementary campuses in the district, including virtual “Fall Fest” and “Winter Fest” events.

Once students were back on campuses, Sorrell and her intern dressed up in costumes to greet students: “I flew around as a butterfly, dragon, or angel, or rode around as a dinosaur cowboy, interacting with students with high energy.”

“We may be in a pandemic, but we are in good hands with counselor Mrs. Kat Sorrell,” said Cielo Vista Elementary School’s Principal Frances Hansell. “Kat’s inspirational words of encouragement during this time of crisis and her uplifting message of resiliency and hope resonates through her Motivational Minutes.”