Gov. Roy Cooper honored National School Counseling Week at B. Everett Jordan Elementary, where 2023 national school counselor of the year Meredith Draughn works. 

School counselors from across the Alamance Burlington School System and fourth graders at the school were invited to hear the governor speak in Graham Tuesday afternoon. In his speech, Cooper said he will allocate more funding to public school systems to prioritize better counseling in his budget proposal later this month.

“We need … better pay for all of our educators, more counselors, more psychologists, more social workers, more people who understand that we need to make sure we're paying attention to the whole child,” Cooper said in his speech.

Draughn, guidance counselor at B. Everett Jordan Elementary, was named the 2023 national school counselor of the year by the American School Counselor Association. Draughn said she’s excited to use this honor to advocate for more school counseling across both North Carolina and the country.

Draughn said though the American School Counselor Association recommends 250 students per school counselor, the ratio is often much higher. In North Carolina, the ratio was 316 students per counselor in the 2021-22 academic year, according to ASCA. This means counselors aren’t able to be as proactive as they would like to be.

“We really want to teach core instruction to all students, ‘Mental health is health.’ Here's what feelings are, here's how to use a coping strategy to get through a tough situation, here's things that we can and can't control and what we can do about that,” Draughn said. “That is something that all students should have access to learning. But when we are being used as triage, or only our most intensive services, we’re not able to be as effective.”