CHS' Carla Elliff is IL Counselor of the Year
April 07, 2017

Kahok PR
April 07, 2017

Carla Elliff, co-chair of the counseling department at Collinsville High School, was named the 2017 Ray Piagentini High School Counselor of the Year by the Illinois School Counselor Association.

Elliff accepted the award during a luncheon held today in Bloomington, IL. She was selected from “non-collar counties” outside the Chicago area. The Illinois High School Counselor of the Year Award is presented to someone who "goes above and beyond to make a difference in the profession of school counseling, the lives of students and the school community at large."

Since joining the counseling staff at CHS in 2005, Elliff has been instrumental in transforming the department, as well as assisting students as they transition from high school to college to careers. In addition, she reached out to elementary, intermediate and middle school staff in the Collinsville school district to implement college and career education at all levels by providing lessons, presentations and activities.

At CHS, Elliff visits classes to teach lessons on diversity and tolerance, career and four-year planning and study skills. She has organized a school-wide career day, as well as essential activities for parents, such as the 8th Grade Parent Night, CHS Open House and the College & Financial Aid 101 Night for families. She also implemented College & Financial Aid Thursdays to give students space and time to complete necessary college applications and financial aid paperwork.

Elliff collaborated with community organizations to start a grief group for students who have lost a loved one, organized a stress management group for students who have trouble managing life’s problems and facilitates an anger group for young women.

One of her notable contributions at CHS has been to create bridges of access to local colleges and college-readiness resources for English Language Learners. In the last five years, she has sought funding from community sources to organize field trips for ELL students to visit local universities, vocational colleges and college fairs – many of these students have never visited an institution of higher learning. These trips introduce them to faculty and expose them to college life.

She was also instrumental in building a partnership with the Hispanic Arts Council of St. Louis to bring Universidad Ya! to Collinsville High School. The program facilitates community organization and assistance to Hispanic students, nurturing a college-bound culture within Collinsville’s Spanish speaking communities.

Another CHS program initiated by Elliff is the after school tutoring program. Seeing a need at the school, several years ago she recruited National Honor Society volunteers and began an effort to provide extra study assistance to students. What began as a program with volunteers only, no transportation and one large table, has grown to a program in the school library with a multitude of tables and computers, paid certified teachers and transportation provided to take students home – thanks to her advocacy for more resources.

Elliff sponsors a student-led program to integrate and mentor new students called “Kahok Ambassadors.” In addition, there are numerous stories of how she has intervened and supported students in crisis so they can focus on studies and get their post-high school aspirations back on track.

Her co-workers at CHS say Elliff is an example to students and staff, routinely going above and beyond her job description.
A fellow counselor at CHS says: “Through Carla’s efforts, she has turned our department into a comprehensive developmental counseling program that addresses the academic, social and emotional needs of all students through advocacy, leadership and collaboration. Collinsville High School has been changed for the better because of her. She always works from the viewpoint of ‘What is best for kids?’”

Previously, Elliff has been honored as Collinsville Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year (2015), Madison County Career and Technical Counselor of the Year (2016) and Superintendent’s Excellence Award winner (2011-12). She is a member and past secretary of the Southwestern Illinois School Counselor Association, member of Illinois Counseling Association and American School Counselor Association, member and second vice-president of the Delta Epsilon Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma.

Elliff is also a member of key district-wide programs such as the RTI Team, Data Team, Curriculum Council and School Improvement Team.

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