SAN MARCOS – A school counselor at Mission Hills High School was chosen for the San Diego County Counselor of the Year award for her work with high school students.
Cherryl Baker, a San Marcos local, has been a school counselor for 22 years in the San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD). She has been at Mission Hills since the school opened back in 2004.
On Jan. 22, the San Diego County Office of Education, along with Baker’s family and colleagues, surprised Baker with the award at Mission Hills.
“My administration and my fellow counselors told me that we were going to be doing a presentation or an interview regarding school counseling because National School Counseling Week is coming up,” Baker said. “But when I arrived, they surprised me, and my husband and my son were there, too. It was a huge surprise, and I was really honored that so many people took the time to be a part of it.”
Three counselors were chosen out of 47 submissions. One for the elementary school level, one for middle school and one for high school.
“We’re thrilled to recognize these three school counselors,” said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold. “They are shining examples of why school counselors are so integral to student success especially now during distance learning and increased hardships due to the pandemic. They’ve provided the invaluable work of connecting with students who have been out of touch or disengaged, and have highlighted the critical need for strong relationships with students and their families.”
Throughout her years as a school counselor, Baker has founded numerous clubs and organizations to connect students including the Peer Leaders Uniting Students Program, Cardinal Scholars, the ADL No Place for Hate program, and most recently, the Students Without Limits Program, which supports undocumented/immigrant youth, and more.
“I grew up in a military family and we moved every few years,” Baker said. “One of the things that was consistent was me being in school. I loved school, it was my safe place. So the idea of being part of making school a safe place for students is very special to me because schools had done that for me.”
Baker’s parents are originally from the Philippines, which has inspired her to make sure that students from all walks of life feel embraced and empowered to not only succeed in school but in whatever they choose to do later in life, as well.
“I find school counseling to be unique in that we can help empower students and families, and help them achieve equity and access. As counselors, we can help students gain access to all of the resources and opportunities that are available to them, which then removes these perceived barriers that may be standing in the way of their goals,” Baker said.
At the ceremony, Baker was presented with a $500 check, which she says she hopes to put toward a scholarship fund for seniors at Mission Hills.
“I love Mission Hills so it’s a chance for me to represent this school that I love so much and the community that I love so much,” Baker said. “Hopefully, I can bring some awareness to the role of school counselors in schools. I hope people will see how much counselors are an integral part of our school systems.”
All three counselors will be highlighted and recognized during the 6th annual San Diego School Counselor Con on Feb. 4, the second day of the virtual conference.