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Unity Grove Elementary School Counselor Named Henry County Schools 2024 School Counselor of the Year

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Henry County Schools (HCS) named Shanna Mitchell-Jones, Ed.D., of Unity Grove Elementary School as the district’s 2024 School Counselor of the Year.

The Feb. 8 ceremony at the McDonough Performing Arts Center celebrated school counselors districtwide during National School Counseling Week, embracing the 2024 theme of “School Counseling: Standards-Based, Student-Focused.”

“We are here to celebrate standout support professionals,” HCS Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis said. “Your ability to show up for students on their hardest, loneliest, or most difficult day while supporting others on their most victorious day is a gift. Your commitment to your students and colleagues makes our community better.”

“It is an honor and privilege to be here today to celebrate all of you,” added Board Chair Sophe Pope (Dist. 4). “The support, love, coaching, and guidance you provide for every student truly make an impact that will last a lifetime.”

Dr. Mitchell-Jones, who readily professes that her “passion is to help students find their passion,” embodies a conviction that supports the district’s mission and vision. She emerged as the finalist for School Counselor of the Year after a rigorous evaluation process that began in May 2023.

“When I heard the announcement, I was shocked,” Dr. Mitchell-Jones said. “That quickly turned into gratitude for having such an amazing community, team, and department supporting the school counseling profession and enabling me to live my purpose.”

She also received commendation for her strengths in relationship building and her ability to collaborate with her peers. She values continuous learning and motivates others to do the same.

“Being recognized as the School Counselor of the Year acknowledges my efforts to make significant contributions to my profession,” Dr. Mitchell-Jones said. “I always seek to use my knowledge and skills to deliver effective counseling services to school communities and families and implement appropriate interventions in advocating for students’ academic, social, emotional, and career needs.”

Dr. Mitchell-Jones has demonstrated steadfast commitment to students’ well-being over her 10-year career as a counselor serving elementary and middle schools. She considers being a school counselor to be more than a job, and her academic and career journey illustrates that conviction.

“This unique role enables me to guide students,” Dr. Mitchell-Jones added. “As a mentor, I help them navigate tough challenges and encourage them to utilize their unique gifts in exploring their goals and dreams. I am passionate about ‘Winning for Kids’ and strive to equip them with the skills and tools they need to overcome obstacles.”

Other school counselors across the district were also honored for their invaluable contributions to championing successful student outcomes. 

McDonough Middle School Counselor Pakisha Reynolds was named 2024 School Counselor of the Year Semifinalist, and Woodland Elementary School Principal Makisha Williams was named 2024 School Counseling Administrator of the Year.

Pope, Board Vice Chair Annette Edwards (Dist. 2), and board members Dr. Pam Nutt (Dist. 1) and Holly Cobb (Dist. 3) joined HCS principals and other administrators onstage to honor the nominees alongside Georgia United Credit Union, who sponsored the event and presented checks to the winners.

Edwards said there could be no school without school counselors, echoing the theme for National School Counseling Week, which aimed to highlight the unique and instrumental role of school counselors everywhere.

“I know families feel better bringing their kids to school every day because you’re here,” Edwards said. “You go above and beyond, and students have the most incredible, welcoming experience because of you.”

“You believe in what young people are capable of achieving and expose them to paths they may not see for themselves,” added Superintendent Davis. “Your fingerprints are seen on the lives of children and your colleagues. I could not be any more grateful for the role of school counselor in public education today.”

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.