December 6, 2018

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Kimberly Cannon, Graduate Assistant

VSU’s Dr. Lee Grimes Named Counselor Educator of the Year

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Dr. Lee Grimes was recently recognized as the Georgia School Counselor Association 2018 Counselor Educator of the Year.
Grimes, an associate professor in VSU’s Department of Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy, received the award during the annual Georgia School Counselor Association conference in November.
Grimes was chosen for her willingness to demonstrate leadership, advocacy, and collaboration in her work, provide access to rigorous educational experiences for every student, be responsible for innovations and program development, and more.
“In order for my work as a counselor educator to be recognized, it takes a whole team of other educators working at a high level,” Grimes said. “I see the Georgia School Counselor Association Counselor Educator of the Year award as recognition not just for me but for all that is happening at VSU’s counselor educator program. I get to work with the best professors and students every day.”
Two practicing school counselors from Valdosta City Schools and Gwinnett County Schools nominated Grimes for Counselor Educator of the Year. She was acknowledged for her dedication to advocating for and supporting the needs of rural school counselors.
“There are two areas that are my greatest passion in school counseling, and they are the academic and career needs of rural students and the needs of rural school counselors who often work isolated and without the resources available in larger districts,” she said. “My research focuses on these areas. I'm encouraged about the status of rural education in our region in part because VSU's strategic plan focuses on increasing regional impact and supporting the growth of local communities and including education there. My work in counselor education is directly tied to this initiative.”
As a professor at VSU, Grimes’ work includes helping to develop the GAP (Guide, Advocate, and Prepare) Program, which connects school counseling students with first-year students at VSU, allowing school counseling students to learn about the needs of their future students as they help freshmen transition into their first post-secondary experience.
Grimes, now entering her seventh year as a counselor educator, has 20 years of educational experience. She began her career as a high school English teacher and later became a school counselor and worked at the elementary, middle, and high school level.
“I believe there are no greater advocates to support the academic, career, and social/emotional growth for all students in Georgia than school counselors,” she said. “School counselors are the educators who talk with a crying student when he or she has friend or classroom problems. We are also the people who run school-wide programs on academic preparedness for post-secondary success. The school counselor’s work runs the gamut from individual needs to entire school initiatives that target every student.”
The Georgia School Counselor Association is a private, non-profit association that supports school counselors by encouraging self-evaluation, conducting research to measure counselor effectiveness, and providing professional development opportunities.