LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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April Leon

Position: School Counselor
School: Broughton Magnet High School
School District: Wake County Public School System
City, State: Raleigh, NC

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Music that Describes April

April Leon was nominated by her spouse, Marco Leon.

Mrs. Leon's journey started with a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. She was going to be a lawyer and help the less fortunate by providing them access to a great attorney. Putting her law school dreams on hold, she worked with adolescent girls at a mental health agency and realized that her passion was more in the field of young people and not adults. She returned to school for her Master's degree, taking a pay cut working in the schools as she completed her School Counseling Program. This is where a LifeChanger was born. 

Mrs. Leon has a heart of gold. Before she became a Licensed Professional School Counselor, she was already a school counselor. During her internship, where she worked as a Guidance Technician, a secretary to the Student Services Department, she was known as "the fourth counselor." Her colleagues know her as a kid magnet. Students would say, "she gets us." Mrs. Leon advocates for all students, regardless of their skin color, abilities, or education level.

Mrs. Leon started her Counseling Career at the middle school level. One thing she did not tolerate was bullying of any sort. In October, Mrs. Leon took pride in leading various bullying prevention activities, such as signing a no-bullying pledge and creating a breakout box for bullying. As part of the breakout box, students had to figure out the code to open the toolbox with bullying prevention resources. She also led spirit weeks to promote no bullying and created a bullying prevention video. In short: she's an anti-bullying advocate.

Mrs. Leon was challenged by her principal when hired to enter the district's annual bullying prevention contest. She brought home second place at the middle school level the first year she entered. For the following three years, Mrs. Leon got first place. Mrs. Leon took a break during the COVID pandemic but returned with a second-place win in 2021-2022. (Check out the videos here

Mrs. Leon made students at her school feel safe because they knew they had someone in their corner who would always protect them. She started up an after-school club that she called Homework Club. The purpose was for students who did not have access to the internet, computers, printers, or a quiet space to work on assignments to stay after school and get their work done. She also opened it up for students who wanted to hold study groups and work on group projects, leveling the playing field for all students to have access to good grades. Teachers even offered to come and assist students with any questions they had and work with them on assignments for their class. Students also enjoyed attending because they had a safe space where they were cared for and where they belonged. It made students feel good when their grades increased because of the time and effort they would put in.

Mrs. Leon led her school's chapter of the Builder's Club, the largest service organization for middle school and junior high students, with more than 45,000 members worldwide. She also led a Girl Talk Club where adolescent girls could speak about what they deal with on a daily basis. Students enjoyed having an outlet where they could be themselves and not be judged. Mrs. Leon always provided students with that opportunity.

As she needed a change and wanted to do more for students, she recently switched to high school in February 2022, where she is always racking her brain on how she can get students and their families more engaged in their academic careers. Mrs. Leon is always trying to find an effective way to help students struggling with academic success. She has reached out to community advocates to try and get them to come and speak with her department about what the community needs from school to make them feel valued. She also enrolled in a Spanish 101 course provided by her district to help increase communication between her school and Spanish-speaking families.  

Mrs. Leon also shows up for students outside of school, attending various sporting events to show them that she cares about the whole student and not just their academics. She also checks in on former students to ensure they are doing well academically. All the time, Mrs. Leon hears from former parents about how much she helped their child and how when their child was having a problem, they would tell their parents, "I will just talk to Mrs. Leon when I get to school; she knows what to do."

Mrs. Leon does not look for recognition because, to her, she is just doing her job. She sees herself as her students' "Guardian Angel," always calling them "her babies," and often tells them if they are not doing right, she is not doing a good job. Mrs. Leon is a LifeChanger. She comes into students' lives and provides them with hope. Mrs. Leon has only been a School Counselor for almost seven years, but her impact will last a lifetime on her students. Her motto is "All children are unique in their own way. Building relationships is key to their success. Listening and respect go a long way."

Comments (12)

Kelly Buynitzky Posted over a year ago

When April came to Broughton in Feb. 2022, she jumped right in to help the young scholars at Broughton reach their fullest potential as humans. She helped the students create a viable schedule for the following year that would help them to achieve their fullest academic potentials, and she got involved in their social activities at Broughton as well. I found that if I had a question or concern about one of our mutual students, I could always rely on April to help them. When our students were struggling emotionally April was the first counselor I went to in order to try to help the students find the professional help they needed.

Kathleen Neff Posted over a year ago

April was always a voice of compassion and support when I worked with her at Broughton. She was the counselor for my son and our family felt very supported.

Emily Braem Prijatel Posted over a year ago

You are a game changer and I'm so proud to know you! Thanks for always putting students first.

Terrill Hartenstein Posted over a year ago

April is a phenomenal influence on the lives of students! She values and supports all students and helps facilitate that same care in them for others!

Jessica Collins Posted over a year ago

April is one of the best school counselors I have ever worked with in my 17 years in education. She is passionate, knowledgeable and caring. She believes that all students can learn and are capable of success. Additionally she is respected by her colleagues and they trust her implicitly. April absolutely made our school better for everyone.

Kelly Williamson Posted over a year ago

Thank you for all you do for our school!!!!

Melissa Austin Posted over a year ago

Thank you for your dedication to our students and for changing lives through your work.

Morgan Judge Posted over a year ago

We are so proud to have April as a member of our team at Broughton High School. You would have no idea this is only her 2nd year in the high school setting. As a counselor you have to juggle many roles to support students of ALL backgrounds with a variety of needs and April transitions between these roles daily to support our students. She is quick to take on a challenge and has learned all the nuisances of high school counseling incredibly fast. She is wonderful at building rapport with her students and takes the extra time to see them in after-school activities (fashion shows, plays, recitals, etc.). We are so lucky to have April as a LifeChanger on our team!

Ava Closs Posted over a year ago

Congratulations April! I am so proud to hear of your winning the Lifechangers award. You have certainly been an asset to us at Broughton. Please continue to do what you do! The students love you, and we do too! (notice the rhyme-smile) Congrats again!

Dale Wall Posted over a year ago

Congratulations April! You are so deserving of this award! Your coworkers, both at West Millbrook and Broughton, are not surprised and are thrilled to see you being recognized for what comes naturally!

Suzanne Quirk Posted over a year ago

Ms. Leon is the absolute best! Since she has arrived at Broughton she has jumped right in to academic life and student life! She has a special and unique relationship with all students and participates in many after school events! She is a dedicated employee and a dedicated counselor. I have "keeping it real" time with April on many days after school and appreciate her candor and honesty!

Stacy Tash Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Leon is incredible and this recognition is well deserved. The kids add her “babies” and they are truly bless to have her as their guardian angel. Thank you for all you do Mrs. Leon. Your impact is felt!