Position: School Counselor
School: Southwest Elementary School
School District: Polk County Public Schools
City, State: Lakeland , FL
Music that Describes Kelly
Kelly Leonard was nominated by her principal, Julie Sloan.
Miss Leonard has been a school counselor for two short years, and in that time, she has made a tremendous impact on her school. She is a member of the school leadership team as well as chair of the MTSS committee. Her ability to manage the daunting tasks placed upon a guidance counselor is top-notch. Miss Leonard builds strong relationships with students and colleagues.
Miss Leonard takes the task of dealing with students' mental health issues seriously. Miss Leonard seeks to support students' mental health by implementing many successful strategies at Southwest Elementary. For example, she encourages teachers to use the Sandford Harmony resources (a program that promotes social-emotional well-being through lessons, stories, songs, games, and more) to generate quality student-to-student conversations. Miss Leonard actively builds student mentor-to-mentee relationships when hosting lunch clubs for 2nd-5th grade students. Additionally, she facilitates grief groups allowing students to productively share their experiences in a safe and nurturing environment. Miss Leonard has also brought the Drum Beat program to SWE students. The Drum Beat program incorporates physical, behavioral, and cognitive elements to achieve positive relationship outcomes.
Over the summer, while reviewing school data, Miss Leonard noticed a huge concern: the number of tardies and absences her school had the prior school year. She created an attendance incentive and presented awards at lunch every Monday. Due to her efforts, there has been a decrease in tardy and absent students this school year.
Miss Leonard oversees her school's MTSS process, which is a system used to support students' learning and track their progress. She holds monthly data chat meetings with each teacher, and they discuss individual student progress and make any changes necessary to the student's intervention plan. Her dedication to this process ensures students' academic and behavioral needs are met.
The Kids Pack program serves approximately 40 students at SWE. Miss Leonard has partnered with front office staff to guarantee students receive the Kids Pack items without interrupting their instructional day. Miss Leonard regularly monitors the student population and promptly addresses any needs as they arise, seeking various resources to assist the parents and students. During the holidays, Miss Leonard works closely with the Salvation Army to establish an Angel Tree program for SWE students and families. Staff, community partners, and other interested parties help deliver gifts and food to needy families.
"Our school is blessed to have found such a compassionate, student-centered school counselor. Miss Leonard is making a huge difference in the lives of our students," said Sloan.