Rolling Meadows High School counselor Gabriela Medina has recently been named the Illinois School Counselor Association’s 2016 Outstanding High School Counselor of the Year.
Medina, an English as a Second Language (ESL) counselor, was selected for bringing innovation to Rolling Meadows' counseling program, providing and demonstrating leadership and for going above and beyond in her role by facilitating numerous community outreach opportunities.
"Gabriela strives to motivate and inspire her Latino students to have confidence in themselves, not fear life and convince them that even though their lives might not be easy, they have to believe they have a gift for the world," said Lee Stanley, Associate Principal for Instruction.
Nathan Aslinger, an Associate Principal who oversees the school's Student Services department said, "We couldn't be more proud of Gabriela. Her happiness and relentless passion for inspiring students drives her to continue finding creative ways to help students succeed both academically and socially. She is extremely deserving of this prestigious award."
Along with working with ESL students, Medina assists Rolling Meadows' AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students and staff and takes AVID juniors to visit several universities in Illinois during spring break. Medina has presented at state and national conferences and has guided the school's counseling department to make data-driven decisions to help students succeed.
Medina started a club for Latino students that has grown into a highly-regarded student organization that empowers its members and future Rolling Meadows students. For example, Medina and students in the club travel to a local middle school to mentor 50 at-risk students in the sixth and seventh grades.
She also works to give students outside opportunities to help them become college and career ready. She recently spent 10 weeks after school giving students the opportunity to learn coding and valuable life skills. This past summer, Medina and another counselor put together a class for recently-exited ESL students to build skills and visit colleges and local businesses to network with future employers.
Additionally, Medina is a champion for community outreach. She facilitates monthly Latino Family meetings, where parents learn about accessing student’s grades and progress, AP and Dual Credit courses, the college application process and financial aid and legal immigration updates.
When Medina meets with parents, she ensures they know about and can access school and community resources. She is continually looking for new resources and opportunities to help all students.
Medina consistently models positive behavior among students and spotlights their successes on social media. Whether students are taking the Geometry in Construction class, participating in coding lessons after school, attending the annual Latino Summit or enrolled in summer school sessions, Medina is the first to highlight their efforts on Twitter to inspire more students.
Medina will receive the award at the Illinois School Counselor Association's state conference on April 29, 2016 in Rosemont.