Three North Pinellas professionals were named Counselors of the Year for 2013 as part of National School Counseling Week, celebrated Feb. 3-7.
The annual event is sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, whose aim is to focus public attention on the contributions of professional school counselors in the nation's school systems.
Mary Smith-Hart, Jennifer Lotti and Kathleen "Kit" Ewing were honored at the Jan. 28 School Board meeting in conjunction with the week of recognition.
A school counselor for 24 years, Smith-Hart currently works at Oakhurst Elementary in Largo.
Lotti has been a school counselor for 14 years and is also a licensed mental health counselor. She currently works at Palm Harbor Middle.
Ewing has been a school counselor for 19 years and is nationally board certified. She heads the guidance department and serves as the 11th grade counselor at Dunedin High.
Working with students to remove barriers to learning, counselors also address academic concerns, promote development of personal and social skills and provide career awareness and postsecondary options.
Comprehensive school counseling programs are designed to help increase student achievement and provide a resource for students, parents, teachers and administrators.
National School Counseling Week highlights the impact that counselors have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.
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Deputy James Butterfield, lead adviser for Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Explorers Post 900, has been selected as the National Sheriff's Association Explorer Post Advisor of the Year by the National Sheriff's Association.
Since accepting the position of lead adviser in 2010, Butterfield has facilitated activities for Explorers ages 14 to 21 that teach responsibility, discipline and integrity while providing an insight into the field of law enforcement. He's also coordinated meetings, training opportunities, in-service details and fundraisers for program participants.
Under his leadership, Post 900 has earned various distinctions at the Florida Association of Police Explorers state conference and currently holds first place in the state for law enforcement scenario competition, first place in honor guard competition and second place in both shooting and drill.
As part of an Explorer exchange program that was developed by Butterfield, Post 900 and police Explorers in Nova Scotia were able to share law enforcement training information and local Explorers had the opportunity to travel to Nova Scotia to attend Canada's National Explorer Law Enforcement Leadership Camp.
As a result of his efforts to coordinate access to additional leadership training, Explorer Post 900 has attended the Sheriff's Youth Ranch Leadership Development Program at Camp Caruth in Inglis for the past two years.
Butterfield will be presented with the award at the National Sheriff's Association Conference June 21-25 in Fort Worth, Texas.
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