National School Counseling Week 2021 is being celebrated nationwide on February 1-5 to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within our school systems. Here at Stafford MSD, we have a strong team of female counselors and we will spend each day highlighting their work on all of our campuses. During COVID-19, their attention to social and emotional wellness has been critical to student success. We appreciate their expertise and tremendous service!
"This year I have adopted a theme of "Queen Counselors" for the SMSD Counselors. When I think of the definition of the queen, as it relates to chess, that is the most powerful chess piece that each player has. They are able to move any number of unobstructed squares in any direction along a rank, file, or diagonal on which it stands! In this season, our counselors have demonstrated their ability to remove distractions, while focusing on social and emotional wellness, all with the intent of encouraging others to heal and move forward. They are truly a work of heart! I celebrate each of our "Queen Counselors" from my heart and tiara to yours!"
Ms. Marva Rasberry, District Supervisor for Counselors
Early Childhood Center
Djuana Cole (1st and 2nd Grade)
Shatarra King (3rd-5th Grade)
LaPorsha Frazier (Lead Counselor, 8th Grade)
Liza Knight-Mendonca (6 & 7th Grade)
Grace Landry (Lead Counselor, Last Names A-Gr)
Carrie Sims (Last Names Gu-Pa)
Andrea White (Last Names Pe-Z)
Thais Marie-Hudson (Administrative Assistant to Counselors)
"I would like to wish all of our counselors a Happy National School Counseling Week! You are the epitome of innovation and the first people to offer a helping hand on our campuses. Your work makes student dreams come true and that is real power."
Dr. Robert Bostic, Superintendent of Schools
Early Childhood Center
Ms. Sherri Hobbs
Here at SMSD, if we had to pick one word to describe Ms. Sherri Hobbs it would be impossible because 4 come to mind: out of this world. Our ECC counselor was born in Kansas and grew up all over the United States. She started at SMSD as a Kindergarten teacher and both of her sons graduated as Spartans. Eventually, she went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of St. Thomas and is now in her 4th year as a counselor here. She has been in education for 32 years.
“As a teacher, I saw such a need for [counseling], to help students with what they’re dealing with in their lives,” Hobbs said about the transition from teaching to counseling. “I wanted to have a larger impact with more students.”
She is relentless when it comes to serving her heart – the Stafford community. Her focus is on supporting students through character lessons, as well as social and emotional wellness. This includes spearheading multiple donation drives throughout the year that teach Spartans about the importance of giving back. This year the 4th Annual Christmas Toy Drive hosted by ECC collected and donated over $3,000 in monetary gifts, over 1000 toys, and 50 turkeys along with pantry goods to help nearly 100 SMSD families. Year after year, she watches the success of this annual event grow exponentially.
Hobbs describes her favorite things about being a counselor, “Hugs, meeting needs, seeing smiles, taking a weight off of someone’s shoulders. It’s a reward helping families and it makes what I do worth it. I'll do everything in my power and shake every tree to do what I can to help.”
Thank you Queen Hobbs!
Ms. Shatarra King
SMSD peers describe Ms. Shatarra King as the queen of seeing the glass half full. It’s clear from every interaction that she pours her heart into her work. She is in her 3rd year with Stafford MSD and started as a counselor at the Intermediate School. At the start of the 2020-21 school year, Ms. King moved over to Elementary School to stick with her 5th graders when the Intermediate School was closed.
In the midst of the pandemic, she uses a classroom for her office and has made it a welcoming space for kiddos to visit when they're not virtual. There are many cozy corners and even a large wall of characters from the movie ‘Inside Out’ that reads, “Every day is full of emotions. Your counselor is here to help.”
She credits Angela Hopkins for inspiring her to become a counselor. Ms. King says that when she was in 6th grade, Hopkins was her pep squad coach, then eventually she became her high school counselor. They spent a lot of time together especially during the application process for college.
She eventually graduated from Clark Atlanta University and really does look at the big picture when it comes to student success. She has spearheaded campus programs at SMSD that encourage kids to appreciate their history and to plan for their future by sharing from her own experiences.
When asked about the biggest challenges of counseling she said, “Trying to help them learn some of those hard lessons that they need to learn without sheltering too much.” Her strategy for overcoming that fear is to, “Remind myself that I’ve done the best that I can and believe that they’ll make the right choice ultimately.”
To Ms. King, the biggest reward is when her students share their aspirations, then grow up to achieve those very dreams and come back to say she inspired part of that journey. We see Ms. King repeating the same healthy cycle with our Spartans that started with Angela Hopkins.
Thank you Queen King!
Middle School Counselor Laporsha Frazier has found her purpose at SMSD and we know that her students are channeling the same energy. She hit the ground running when she first started working at SMSD and founded a program called "Young Scholars", which introduces 8th graders to college applications and campus visits to schools like Lamar University, Texas Southern University, Rice University and Houston Baptist University.
Ms. Frazier has a Master's in Counseling from Prairie View A&M University, and talks to her students about everything from preparing for college academically to emotional and personal traumas.
However, her courage and passion didn’t come without a cost. She credits it all to her own counselor growing up. “Growing up, I had a rough life. I was the oddball out, but my counselor would call on me in the mornings and even bring me breakfast. I thought, ‘I want to be like that’. She inspired me to be a counselor,” said Ms. Frazier.
Even though COVID-19 has caused her to think outside the box, she still finds a smile despite the challenges. She is the Lead Counselor and works alongside Ms. Knight-Mendonca to provide students and families with financial resources, school supplies, and even a phone number to call for reporting incidents, which has been the most accessed resource by students and has been extremely useful for interventions by Ms. Frazier.
We know that the resources and programs like the phone number are successful because our students can count on the person on the other end...
Thank you Queen Frazier!
Ms. Liza Knight-Mendonca
We have a brilliant display of color on our campus in Ms. Liza Knight-Mendonca. Ms. Knight-Mendonca loves decorating and incorporating peacocks into her work style and it makes sense when you get to know her as the Middle School Counselor. The peacock is a symbol of integrity and the beauty we can achieve when we endeavor to show our true colors.
Her family’s hometown of Tampico Mexico will always hold a special place in her heart, especially since she is the first generation of her family. She has been in education for 12 years and began working at SMSD last year as a city resident.
She graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University with a degree in English, then obtained her Masters for teaching from Texas A&M Corpus Christi and then eventually got her Masters in Counseling from the University of St. Thomas.
Ms. Knight-Mendonca loves Stafford because it’s small enough to feel like family, but close enough to still get the full experience of Houston. Her favorite part about SMSD is seeing students move through the campuses and grow up in front of her eyes.
She wants her students, peers and parents to know, “Be an advocate for yourself. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stand up for yourself. As long as you’re getting the results and help you need, it’s worth that uncomfortable feeling you might get during the process.”
Thank you Queen Knight-Mendonca!
Ms. Carrie Sims
For Ms. Carrie Sims, it is an honor to serve the students at SMSD. She was inspired to become a counselor while she was a classroom teacher and after doing some research, she felt a tugging on her heart to switch roles.
Her office provides a different kind of atmosphere where it looks and feels full of order and peace. Every decoration and binder are placed perfectly and she says it’s done for the students just as much as herself. “They like structure, and I want to provide them an environment that reflects the same.”
Ms. Sims really does walk the walk. She has been dealing with course selections and pandemic challenges, but she is still finding time to implement a holistic wellness program for students, staff and parents that will roll out in phases over the next year. When discussing the process, she doesn’t leave out the challenges ahead, but it’s during those parts of the conversation that she leans forward. She is in her element.
She had 3 words of wisdom to share with Spartans, “Adapt. Improvise. Overcome. In adapting, in this pandemic season, remember, it is only a season and we will get through it. You are not meant to adapt alone. We [counselors] are here to provide you with resources when it’s time to improvise. Through this process, together we will overcome.”
Finally, she wants students to know that changing their schedules is only one part of her job.
“The biggest thing I want students to know is that we hear you and we see you. Know that we are here for you holistically. Not only for career and college readiness, but we want to make your social and emotional needs are met,” said Ms. Sims and it’s impossible not to believe her.