2024 School Counselor of the Year Offers Mental Health Tips

By Office of Communications
Employee News
May 20, 2024

Valerie Peters, middle school counselor at Robinson Secondary School, has wanted to work in education since she was in high school. As a teenager, she would spend her free time reading to kids at the library or helping them with math.

“During my student teaching experience in college, I loved creating my own lesson plans and watching the students learn through fun activities,” she said. 

After graduating from college, Valerie taught third grade for five years. “I really enjoyed meeting my students at the beginning of the year and building relationships with them and their families. It was a goal of mine to learn their stories and know that this would help them become successful students in my classroom.”

Valerie found she was carving out time in her day to help new students build relationships at school. “I knew that if my students’ social and emotional needs were met, they would achieve success,” she said. This part of her job inspired her to pursue counseling. 

Valerie enjoys “fostering an environment where every student feels safe to learn and grow,” she said. “I feel honored that students see me as a trusted adult at Robinson [Secondary School].” 

Valerie was chosen by the Virginia School Counselor Association as the 2024 Secondary School Counselor of the Year. 

“Mrs. Peters is an amazing counselor who leads with empathy and support, guiding students, staff, and families with her whole heart and unwavering dedication,” said Tracey Phillips, Robinson principal. “Robinson Secondary is beyond fortunate to have Mrs. Peters!”

May is Mental Health Month, so Valerie offered some tips for FCPS employees and families on improving or maintaining good mental health. 

Tips for employees:

  • Focus on positivity.
  • Embrace self-care: sleep, exercise, hang out with friends and family, travel, laugh!
  • Practice gratitude: Write down things you are grateful for. Tell someone you appreciate them.

Tips for families:

  • Establish a family activity night once a week: game night, movie night, family walks, pizza night, etc.
  • Celebrate each other’s success: doing well on a test, a job promotion, playing well in a game, etc.
  • Family meetings: Use them as an opportunity to check in and make sure everyone is doing okay. 

More mental health resources for students are available on the FCPS website.