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Alumna named Colorado high school counselor of the year

Alumna named Colorado high school counselor of the year

Vicki Helfer ‘19W (MS) has earned the prestigious title of Colorado’s 2023 High School Counselor of the Year.  Bestowed upon her by the Colorado School Counselor Association (CSCA), Helfer was recognized as a tenacious advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Equipped with a master’s in school counseling, with a focused concentration in diversity, and an advanced certificate in urban teaching and leadership, Helfer has dedicated five years to her role as a school counselor at Aurora Central High School in Colorado. Inspired by the profound impact of her elementary school counselor, she chose this career path to provide similar support to other students.

“Vicki was a true leader in her school counseling cohort at Warner—from her work in Upsilon Rho Iota (our chapter of Chi Sigma Iota International Counseling Honor Society) to her advocacy work in the community as well as her amazing work in the Rochester City School District,” says Bonnie Rubenstein professor and chair of counseling and human development. “As an intern in the Rochester City School District, Vicki worked tirelessly to help change systems for students and parents with a focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice. Upon moving to Colorado, Vicki continued to Zoom into our school counseling internship class to inspire the next generation of school counselors. Vicki deserves this great honor!”

Helfer's responsibilities encompass a wide range, from aiding students in navigating assignments to offering support as they work through emotions associated with graduation and future endeavors. Beyond her regular counseling duties, Helfer engages in advocacy work, such as facilitating the establishment of gender-neutral bathrooms and developing programs to assist students for whom English is not their first language.  

Her influence extends beyond individual counseling, contributing to the broader initiative at Aurora Central High School to grow mental health services for students. The school’s commitment is evident in the doubling of its counselors in recent years, culminating in the prestigious recognition earlier this year as a model program school by the American School Counselor Association. This designation is given to schools dedicated to delivering counseling programs aligned with their model framework. 

“Nobody works in education expecting accolades, but it means the world to me that someone believed in the work that my team and I were doing enough to nominate me for this award," Helfer says. "Being a school counselor continues to challenge me and change each day—I hope to continue to make my students and school proud.” 

The school counseling program at the Warner School prepares effective school counselors to pursue leadership roles in schools as facilitators of healthy human development and advocates for change, positively impacting the success of individual students and school systems at large. The Warner School has had a 100 percent job placement rate for all school counseling graduates within the year following graduation. Learn more about the Warner School’s school counseling programs