Pelzer receives "School Counselor of the Year" honor

Thursday, October 13, 2016
Kathy (Rapkin) Pelzer

Students at Capistrano Valley High School in California have a valuable resource in their Counseling Department. Counselor Kathy Pelzer is such a tremendous asset that she has been chosen as the "School Counselor of the Year" for the state of California by the California Association of School Counselors. There were 14 nominees for this prestigious award across the state of California, however, Kathy Pelzer was selected.

Kathy Pelzer is the daughter of Richard and Isabelle Laddusaw and the late Doris Frank Laddusaw. Kathy is also the wife of the author David Pelzer. His best works are "The Child Called It" series.

Mrs. Pelzer's extensive background and education gives her great insight into school life.After receiving her teaching credential and Master's in Education, Kathy taught middle school US History and found that many students had sorrows to share. Wanting to offer sound assistance, Kathy got her credential in school counselor, and shortly after that, her Master's degree and license in Marriage and Family Therapy. She was hired as a school counselor by the Arcadia Unified School District, where she spent 20 years developing and implementing an innovative and award winning school counseling program, which became a model for the state of California.

Marriage led Kathy to move to Rancho Mirage and she became a counselor at The Betty Ford Center at Hazelton. There she spent several years guiding the Betty Ford's Family Program, focusing on patients with substance abuse and chemical dependency issues. Kathy's skills and experience grew, but she longed to return to a school setting. When Capistrano Unified launched it's Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), she was excited to be selected as one of the 30 newly hired credentialed school counselors for the district.

Last year, Mrs. Pelzer and fellow counselor, Darwin Vega, introduced exciting changes to the Capo Valley High counseling program. After student surveys showed anxiety and stress to be students' biggest concerns, the counselors created a six week Stress Reduction program.Students were instructed in breathing exercises, progressive relaxation techniques, yoga, Tai Chi and even a visit from "furry friends" to help de-stress before finals.Students found the sessions extremely helpful.In addition, working together with the ASB Student Leadership, the counselors assisted in ushering in the first school wide Bully Prevention Program, dedicating a full week to education and activities related to the prevention of bullying on campus. This year, Capo Valley hopes to join forces with other CUSD high schools to create a powerful, united effort to Stomp out Bullying. The new campaign entitled, "Take a Stand-Lend a Hand" began on October 3, 2016.

The following is a write-up taken out of the COTY Brochure: "Great leaders instill hope and inspire others to believe that they are unique and can make a difference in this world. Kathy Pelzer is exactly that kind of leader and we are honored to name her the California Association of School Counselors (CASC) 2017 Donald G. Hays Outstanding School Counselor of the Year.Kathy has an extensive and impressive history as a school counselor leader, not just in the state of California but also nationally. She began her career in education as a teacher and transitioned to school counseling with ease. She holds both teaching and counseling credentials, and also a License and Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.Throughout her career she has advocated for school counselors in California through involvement in CASC, both at the state and national level. She traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senators Boxer and Feinstein regarding school counselors. She was part of the Public Policy Institute through the American School Counselors Association (ASCA). She served CASC as the Southern California Area Representative, CASC President Elect, CASC President, and CASC Past President. During her tenure with CASC she wrote numerous publications, conducted trainings, and consulted with districts and school administrations which culminated with the passing of Assembly Bill 1802.(This important bill allocated two hundred million dollars for California school counselors.)She was a member of the Los Angeles County Office of Education Guidance Advisory Committee, a member of the advisory committee for the California Standards for the School Counseling Profession, a co-chair for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Team in Arcadia, and President of the Arcadia Pupil Support Services Association. These are just some examples of the tremendous work and advocacy Kathy has done for school counselors in California.Most importantly, she is a phenomenal school counselor, implementing an innovative, data driven school counseling program based on the ASCA National Model in all schools she has served. Kathy is a member of the Capistrano Valley High School Leadership Team, and served last year on the district's Counselor Advisory Team, Regarded by parents like Daniel George from Capistrano Valley High School, Kathy has been an "amazing support for my daughter" and possesses "unending patience and empathy," Kathy isa consummate professional who believes that school counselors are those best prepared and educated to develop programs that meet the personal, academic and career/college needs of the students they serve. She is to be commended for her passion and dedication to the profession of school counseling over the past 22 years."