We Are APS: Maria Grovner Provides Vital Support and Leadership for School Counselors

Atlanta Public Schools proudly celebrates our phenomenal counselors during National School Counseling Week (Feb. 3-7)! Sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, this week is specifically designed to show support for school counselors across the country, and highlights the tremendous impact counseling professionals can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

In celebration of National School Counseling Week, APS salutes those counselors across the District who make a difference in our students’ lives while preparing them for college, career and life. This year’s theme is “School Counselors: Helping Build Better Humans.”

Maria Grovner is one of those professionals. As school counseling coordinator, Grovner provides leadership, training and support to school counselors who serve all APS schools. In addition to providing direction and coordination for the K-12 counseling program, Grovner also implements best practices in the areas of school counseling, student support, and other related factors to promote student learning and progress.

Since arriving at APS, Grovner, who is a seasoned counseling professional, has also taken on another role: Georgia School Counselor Association (GSCA) president for the 2019-2020 school year.

Here is a closer look at Grovner’s new role, and what she’s doing to impact the work of school counselors throughout Atlanta Public Schools.

Why did you decide to run for office with the Georgia School Counselor Association?

I have been on the GSCA Board for the past seven years as secretary and treasurer and served two years on the leadership team. Having been involved with the association for going on 10 years, I felt this was a great way to take what I have learned throughout the years and make a bigger impact on the association initiatives.

Why is your election as president of the GSCA important to you, and as president, what do you hope to accomplish in your new role?

As GSCA president, I have the opportunity to extend my leadership statewide and let the 3,500-plus counselors know that they truly have a champion in their corner who’s relatable and considerate of their needs and the challenges they may endure. My goals include increasing membership, providing virtual professional learning and networking opportunities, and engaging members across a multi-generational lens.

Tell us a little about yourself. What kind of work were you doing before you arrived at APS?

I came to APS in August 2017. Prior to that, I had the distinct pleasure of serving school counselors throughout the state as the program specialist for school counseling at the Georgia Department of Education. I loved working for GaDOE because it provided me an opportunity to share effective practices with school counselors across the state, in person as well as virtually. I was a middle school counselor for nine years at the largest middle school in the state (in Gwinnett County). Additionally, I was a high school counselor for six years and a middle school teacher for four years.

What have been some of your greatest successes in your role with APS?

I’m especially proud that scholarships earned by students has been on the increase. I implemented a district-wide scholarship database last year, and will be hosting scholarship trainings and scholarship seminars this year. In addition to this, providing school counselors with resources to help strengthen their school counseling program is something I also consider a success.

What are some of your future goals as school counseling coordinator?

I want to…

Help build the capacity of our school counselors so they can truly implement a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program that is supported by their school improvement plan and addressed through the many needs of the schools’ population.

Help schools with procedures and processes to ensure our scholars have met the graduation requirements.

Provide resources and initiatives to help increase the District’s seamless college enrollment rate of our scholars (i.e. College Success Course, Summer Melt, Early Exposure) and career development across all grade levels.

Help our scholars “explore the possibilities of their future best life” as early as possible and create tangible artifacts that students can refer back to as they explore opportunities.

Is there anything else you’d like to add or share with the APS community?

In the words of former First Lady Michelle Obama, “School counseling should not be an extra or a luxury just for school systems that can afford it. School counseling is a necessity to ensure that all our young people get the education they need to succeed in today’s economy.” As the GSCA president, counseling coordinator, but most importantly as a school counselor, it is my utmost belief that given the opportunity to do so, school counselors can shine in their craft and impact the lives of scholars. As long as I have an opportunity to influence practicing and aspiring school counselors, that’s what I want to do. I don’t want scholars to say, “My counselor didn’t do anything for me” or, “My counselor told me that I won’t amount to anything.” I want to work with those counselors to impact a change in their mindset so our scholars can ultimately benefit.

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We Are APS highlights APS visionaries (parents, students, teachers, principals, support staff, community members, partners, etc.), who exemplify our vision of a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage, and the community trusts the system. To recommend an APS visionary for a We Are APS feature, contact your communications liaison or email apscommunicationsoffice@gmail.com.

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