LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Karen McCrillis

Position: School Counselor
School: Gardner High School
School District: Gardner Public Schools
City, State: Gardner, MA

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Karen McCrillis was nominated by her colleague, Robert Bardwell.

Ms. McCrillis is the ninth grade school counselor at Gardner High School, as well as the district guidance coordinator. She is given high praise from her colleagues, administrators, and students for her caring demeanor, coupled with an unending supply of energy, passion and enthusiasm. Compassionate, inspirational, coordinated, attentive, helpful, and mostly selfless are words that can be used to describe her.

“Karen has the best interest of all students," said Mark Pellegrino, Gardner Public Schools superintendent. "She does not tolerate mediocrity or exclusivity.  She is truly the best.”

In her district role, she meets monthly with the principals in the district to promote the importance of the school counselor’s role. As a result of her efforts, the district counselors have introduced more social-emotional learning and data-driven programs, and they regularly analyze and review data to make sure their curriculum is effective. She coordinates monthly staff meetings, collaborates with the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium, and organizes relative, impactful professional development for school counselors and related service providers.  She also requires her school counseling colleagues to be accountable by providing yearly data and action plans which ultimately advantage their students. Ms. McCrillis does all of this in addition to having a caseload of 138 9th graders at the high school.

Additionally, Ms. McCrillis has also created and organized the LINK crew transition to high school program. She also single-handedly coordinates the annual eighth grade career fair.

"It was the best career fair I have ever seen.  Students told me, personally, that it was a great event," said Pellegrino. "What really impressed me was that the adult participants said it was an unbelievable time. They loved the original format, and said it was great to be able to share their craft with interested students in a personal way.” 

Ms. McCrillis' impact reaches far beyond the walls of the high school. She has clearly demonstrated her passion and commitment to her students, families and the greater Gardner community.  Because of her work, she was honored as the 2020 School Counselor of the Year by the Massachusetts School Counselor Association (MASCA) at a surprise school assembly on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 8:30 AM.  McCrillis will represent Massachusetts at the national school counselor of the year gala in February 2021.

“MASCA is proud to honor such a dedicated and passionate school counselor as the 2020 School Counselor of the Year.  She is truly an inspiration to all of us," said Robert Bardwell, MASCA Executive Director.

Comments (15)

Lauren Davis Posted over a year ago

Karen is such an asset to the Gardner Public School community! She is welcoming and available to new teachers and truly values the opportunity to be with students in the classrooms. Thank you, Karen for everything that you do!

Johanna O Posted over a year ago

Karen is inspirational! She convinces everyone around her (staff and student) to be better just by being herself!

Ennis Ward Posted over a year ago

Congratulations to my mentor Karen! Karen didn't hesitate to take me on as an intern during this crazy and unpredictable year. Despite the circumstances of 2020, Karen has given me a tremendous amount of information and an experience that I will always refer to as I head out on my own school counseling journey.

Frances LeMieux Posted over a year ago

Karen this is amazing testament to your everyday awesomeness. Every school should be filled with guidance counselors like you!

Monique LeBlanc Posted over a year ago

I feel very lucky to be able to work with such as kind, hardworking, and dedicated counselor. You truly are amazing!

Adam Lewis Posted over a year ago

The best in the business, Ms. McCrillis works hard to create a better experience for everyone, well deserved nomination!

Marloe Swenson Posted over a year ago

Karen is a great person. So glad her caring and supportive nature is supported!

nychele clark Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Karen for 6 years, as an out patient counselor providing school based services, her dedication to the students at the high school has always stood out, and she always made time for me to discuss any concerns with the students I was working with. This year I am honored to work as part of the counseling team along side such a dedicated, talented and caring counselor and team at Gardner High School. Congratulation Karen!

Liza Tierney Posted over a year ago

Karen has so much patience with her students and colleagues! Since working with her, I've learned so much on how to manage a group of counselors as well as how to work with teens! Our school district, and selfishly myself, are lucky to have her around!! I'm so happy for Karen to be considered for this!

Emily Miller Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Karen! Your kindness and devotion to our students is beyond words. Thank you for all you do!

Jessie Flaherty Posted over a year ago

Karen is not only an amazing guidance counselor, but also an amazing co-worker. She is there for students and staff the same. Her dedication and kind heart is like no other.

Patricia A Flynn Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Karen To one of the best guidance counselors, I've had the pleasure to work with in my eighteen years in public education..

Arvid Tenney Posted over a year ago

Karen is an amazing counselor and colleague. It is an honor to work every day with such a dedicated and passionate person. Karen cares about her students and colleagues to a point that is difficult to quantify.

Scott Connery Posted over a year ago

An amazing colleague and counselor. Our students and staff are lucky to have you Karen. Thank You for all you do at GHS!!!

Renee Eldredge Posted over a year ago

I am honored to work with Karen, she is well deserving of this nomination. Her actions speak louder than words, always.