Robert D. Wilson School Counselor, Erica Booth, was honored at the School Counselor Annual Conference hosted by the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association held at The Hershey Lodge and Convention Center on November 29. She was selected as Pennsylvania School Counselor of the Year, the equivalent of Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.
Booth is in her sixth year at Western Wayne School District, all of which were served at Robert D. Wilson Elementary. The PSCA SCHOOL COUNSELOR OF THE YEAR (SCOY) AWARDS honor professional school counselors who have made significant contributions to their students and/or school districts through the development and implementation of comprehensive school counseling programs that are based on the ASCA National Model.
A South Canaan native, Booth is a dedicated educator who has spent 20 years of her life at Western Wayne including the time she was a student and later a professional. After graduating from the district she went on to graduate from Cedar Crest College in 2006 with a bachelor’s in biopsychology. She then received a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Marywood University in 2008, and later took an additional 27 credits to receive her school counseling certification in 2012.
Following her collegiate education, her career path at the district seems like it was meant to be. While she worked as a mobile therapist for her Master’s Degree, she reconnected with Mr. John Kowalski, who was the school counselor at R.D. Wilson for over 20 years before Booth would take over the position.
“He was the one who suggested I become a school counselor,” Booth, who had Kowalski as a counselor herself when she was in middle school, explained. “That day, I called my old advisor at Marywood and put into motion what I would need to do to get my school counseling certificate. That same month that I received my certificate (May 2012) was the same month the RDW school counseling positon was posted. I truly believe there was some outside force driving my career path, and I share this story often with my students.”
Once securing the job as the R.D. Wilson guidance counselor, Booth wasted no time in making the position her own and creating and running various programs to benefit Western Wayne students.
Over the past six years, she has developed a complete comprehensive guidance curriculum for all students K-5. Each classroom receives 12-14 guidance lessons each year, which target the three school counseling domains: career, social-emotional, and academic. Many of the lessons are based off of her yearly needs assessments which review data to identify gaps in student skills. Three years ago, “guidance” was added into the specials rotation at the school to guarantee that students see Booth regularly. Data reports indicate student growth as a result of their guidance lessons.
Booth also brought the Olweus Bully Prevention Program to her district, which is the most widely-used and researched bully prevention program in the world. During her first year as a school counselor, she applied for a grant that would allow her to become an Olweus trainer and consultant and also paid for the startup supplies. She trained staff at R.D. Wilson in 2013 and then EverGreen and the Middle School the following year.
At R.D. Wilson, Booth, in addition, runs a very active Kindness Club with fifth grade students. They have developed countless projects to promote kindness in the school and community. Over the past four years, they received a local grant and numerous donations from the community to help their cause (about $500 total).
Last year, she worked with a few colleagues to also start up a Student Council at RDW. Fifth grade students receive a “Job Application” guidance lesson at the beginning of the year and then have the option to fill out an application for student council as well. This year, the five student council members and six kindness club members worked together to host a school-wide assembly as one of their projects.
These efforts are just some of the reasons why Booth was an excellent candidate for Pennsylvania School Counselor of the Year. She explained the rigorous application process for the award she would eventually win.
“The application involved numerous essays. In addition, I had to submit evidence for the items I wrote about. A major component asked how I have advocated for the school counseling profession. I shared videos of me speaking up at board meetings to share evidence and promote my program,” Booth explained. “I showed PowerPoints from just some of the workshops I have presented at our annual state conference (PSCA). I also discussed how I was an adjunct instructor for Marywood University, teaching “Developing and Managing Your School Counseling Program” to graduate level school counseling students.”
Booth feels very proud to have won this prestigious honor, but she emphasizes that the biggest reward of her career on a daily basis is the work she gets to do with Western Wayne students.
“This award is not about me,” Booth clarified. “It’s about the students. It is because of them and it is for them that I hold myself to the highest standard set by our state and our nation.”
Booth looks forward to a long career at Western Wayne. She described some of her favorite memories to date and can’t wait to make more.
“My favorite moments are those that involve either humor or pride. Every day, I find myself belly-laughing with students at the wonderful wit or profoundly innocent things that they say. When they are laughing, I know that they are happy. And isn’t this our ultimate goal?”