Who are the DPS School Counselors?

  • DPS School Counselors are Licensed Professional School Counselors who use school wide outcome data to design counseling interventions that benefit ALL students through counseling core curriculum (Tier 1), intentional groups (Tier 2), and individual planning (ALL Tiers) 

    DPS School Counseling Department Mission Statement

    Our mission as DPS Professional School Counselors is to provide a comprehensive, developmental, data-driven counseling program to ensure that all students (ECE-12) have the academic, personal-social and 21st century skills needed to graduate and successfully pursue post-secondary options. 

    DPS School Counseling Department Vision

    All Denver Public School students become lifelong learners who are productive, contributing citizens within local and global communities. 

     Counselor stands with graduating seniors

DPS School Counselor Contact's

Congratulations to our 2021-22 School Counselors of the Year!

  • Elementary School Counselor of the Year:

    Misty Schroeder

    Middle School Counselor of the Year:

    Ruthie Perez

    High School Counselor of the Year,

    Sonya Palafox


    Congratulations to all those nominated! The district counseling team thanks all of our DPS school counselors for all that they do and for inspiring us to be better school counselors every day!

  • Improve student behavior

    • School counselors work with students to decrease behavioral disruptions through interventions focused on decreasing classroom disturbances, supporting and enabling teachers to provide high quality instruction. (Mullis, F. & Otwell, P., 2007; Watts, V. & Thomas, B., 1997; Lapan, R. T., Gysbers, N.S., & Sun, Y., 1997; Sutton, J.m. & Fall, M., 1995).
    • Research has shown that school counselors positively impact a student's academic performance, increase student productive, on-task behavior, and reduce disruptive behavior. (Mullis, F. & Otwell, P., 1997; Watts, V. & Thomas, B., 1997).
    • Further research reported that students had significantly less inappropriate behaviors and more positive attitudes toward school when they participated in a school counseling program also reporting decreased aggressive and hostile behaviors (Baker, S. B. & Gerler, E. R., 2001; Omizo, M.M., Hershberger, J.M. & Omizo, S. A., 1988).

  • Increase academic achievement

    The Institute of Medicine has concluded that mental health services were important to increase academic achievement. (Schools and Health Washington D.C.,1997). 83% of elementary school students who participated in a small group intervention on failing grades improved their academics. (Boutwell, D. A. & Myrick, R. D., 1992). Research has shown students in schools with fully implemented model programs a) earn higher grades, b) reports their education was more relevant to their future, c) report a greater access to career and college information and d) report the school had a more positive climate. (Lapan, R. T., Gysbers, N. C. & Sun, Y. 1997)

  • Prevent drop out

    School counselors work in both systemic and programmatic ways to improve school climate and prevent students from dropping out. (Standard, R.P., 2003). Dropout is shown to be related to resiliency and non-cognitive factors such as stress and wellbeing and student belief systems in their ability (Close & Solberg, 2008; Farrington et al.,2012.; Solberg et. al. 2010) Both are areas school counselors are trained in impacting.

  • Work with students on career and college planning

    School counselors are uniquely trained in career counseling and college advisement. Research has shown that school counselors are very effective in helping students with career development (Lapan, R. T., Tucker, B. Kim, S., & Kosciulek, J.F. 2003; Blackhurst, A. E., Auger, R. W., & Wahl, K.H., 2003; Peterson, G. W., Long, K.L. & Billups, A., 1999; Whiston, S. C., Sexton, T. L. & Lasoff, D. L., 1998). Students of ethnically diverse backgrounds are more likely to seek out a school counselor for postsecondary advisement than their white counterparts potentially lessening the gap (Bryan et. al., 2009) even though in the U.S. schools with diverse student populations were less likely to have a school counselor, a highly trained school counselor, or a counselor with acceptable caseload sizes (McDonough, 2005; Plank & Jordan, 2001). Bryan et al. (2012) reported that a school counselor offering more individualized, concrete support in the college application process, such as college essay or financial aid form assistance can positively impacting postsecondary matriculation. Additional research has shown that a school counselor’s postsecondary attainment expectations for African American students can positively influence postsecondary enrollment (Mohammad, 2008).

  • Hold a masters degree in School Counseling

    School counselors hold a Masters Degree in School Counseling and receive training in mental health interventions, academic interventions, and college and career counseling with an emphasis in Human Development. No other profession receives this combination of training. (Miano, G., Forrest, A. & Gumaer, J., 1997) The researched recommendation for counselor caseload size is 1 counselor for every 250 students. Currently DPS' average caseload size is 1 for 340 students. 

  • Stories from our schools

    Stories from those in the field: (*names and identifying information have been changed for student Confidentiality)
    Last year our entire 5th grade class visited three different universities (Yeah, college and career readiness J ). When we visited the University of Colorado at Denver, my clinical supervisor, who was Associate Director of the University of Colorado at Denver campus counseling center, asked our 5th graders if they knew who their school counselor was. All hands shot up, with the grade saying, “Mr. Chris!” enthusiastically. My supervisor then asked want a counselor does. Hands again in the air, however this time not quite so many. My supervisor randomly picked a student with whom I meet. This student said, “Well, a counselor is like someone you can see if you’re not feeling so good about coming to school. He can help you feel better about school and better about yourself, and then coming to school seems a lot better.” -- Christopher Konrad, Knapp Elementary
    Juan moved here with his 6 year old brother, father and grandmother from another state. The family experienced homelessness due to father’s struggle with drug addiction. They moved in with father’s brother and young wife. After two weeks, Juan’s father, sister and grandma moved back. Juan did not want to go with them and begged to stay with other family in Colorado. 

    Juan’s transition was difficult due to past experiences and family crisis. He struggled with keeping his hands to himself and with anger management. He admitted to being involved in frequent fights at his old school, and said that he went to anger management classes there as well. After several meetings with guardian and pertinent school staff, Juan was put on a daily check in/check out system with me (counselor), with a daily progress report. He set 3 goals each day: 1) Safety = keep hands to himself. 2) Responsibility = follow directions. 3) Respect = appropriate language. 

    Juan met with me daily each morning and before the end of the day. He looked forward to our meetings, and the positive encouragement and feedback that he received each day. He worked hard each day to meet his goals and was very disappointed when he would “slip up” and make a mistake in his day. It took positive feedback from his guardians to help Juan build his confidence and feel supported. He was able to earn weekly rewards at school and at home. He reported during one of our meetings that he felt he was more able to control himself and impulses to hit others when he is frustrated or angry. Through our meetings he was able to learn tools to manage these sensitive areas and overcome them. 

    Juan became proud of his daily/weekly progress reports and was eager to take them home to discuss with his guardians. It took some time and hard work on his part. According to his classroom teachers, his behavior improved dramatically. His teacher’s reported that his attitude improved as well as his work performance. Juan got along better with his peers and he made some friends in his class. During our last meeting in June, he gave me a big hug and thanked me for helping him. He said that he liked “not fighting so much”. He reported that he didn’t think that he could control it, because he went to a school where kids fought a lot. He said that he liked coming to Florida Pitt Waller because teachers and staff cared about him and wouldn’t allow him to continue to fight. He said that he liked that and that is why he wanted to stay with his guardians in Colorado. He also told me that he didn’t want to do the progress report point sheets next year. He said that he just wants to come to school and make the right choices each day. 
    --Mavis Cain, Florida Pitt Waller

    When I began working at Cheltenham over two years ago, I quickly met a young male student at our school who had severe emotion regulation issues. He would often get upset in class and throw chairs and push over tables. He would also throw things at his teacher and at times run out of the classroom. I was often called to respond to his escalations and got to know him very well and quickly found a place in my heart. I began working with the student both individually and in groups almost daily on how to better regulate his emotions, make better choices when frustrated, and process certain situations he cannot control in his home life. This school year will be my third year knowing this student, and I am bursting with pride to say I have not once this year been called to respond to escalation of his because he has not had one. He is now one of the top achieving students in his fifth grade class, a model student in behavior for others, and was just named Student of the Month our first month back, an honor only two students from each grade receive
    -- Lauren Graham, Cheltenham Elementary

    This year a 2nd grade student was being sent to the office daily for disrespect and peer conflicts. Come to find out, the student’s father had recently re-entered the home and was struggling with alcoholism. After a few times meeting, this student now eats breakfast with me daily, sets a clear goal for the day, eats lunch with me to progress monitor, and then checks out at the end of the day. She has not had any office referrals since the intervention was put in place. A lot of counselor contact but well worth it!-- Margaret Guinan, Greenlee Elementary

    Buenas tardes:
    En mi opinión este proyecto de visitas a la casa, es excelente ya que mi hijo estaba entrando a la escuela en medio año escolar y nos sentamos muy desorientados, perdidos pero cuando la consejera vino a nuestra casa y nos habló de los programas y oportunidades que ofrecía la escuela y más que todo eso nos hizo sentir bienvenidos aceptado ya que la Srta Candice fue muy amable y contesto todas nuestras preguntas y calmo mis preocupaciones con respecto al ser nuevos en la escuela, yo pienso que fe como un ángel para nosotros ya que mi hijo había pasado por tiempos muy difíciles y ella se portó como si lo conociera de toda la vida y eso fue muy fundamental para que mi hijo se adaptará pronto a su nueva escuela y compañeros, y ahora él está muy entusiasmado y pensando en su futuro y una carrera universitaria. 
    I C, Parent 
    Good afternoon,
    In my opinion this project of the house visits is excellent because my son was joining the school half way through the semester and we felt very disorientated and lost but when the counselor came to our house and spoke to use about the programs and opportunities that the school offer and specially how she made us feel welcomed and accepted. Ms. Candice was very nice and answered all of our questions and calmed my worries about being new to the school. I believe that she was angel to us because my son had gone through some rough times and she acted like she knew him all of his life and that was very crucial in my son adapting fast to the school and schoolmates. Now he is very excited and thinking about his future and a college career.
    I C, Parent

    The school counseling world is so different from day to day! Earlier this year, I was meeting with a senior who wanted to dropout (again, for the third time in his high school career). After a long discussion and a lot of trust, the student shared with me that he did not see the point in graduating because he was undocumented. He mentioned he didn't need a high school diploma for his job and he didn't see how he could ever have a different or better job than his current one. We had just wrapped up a Naviance lesson discussing college and career exploration, so he was feeling particularly discouraged. We do a lot with post-secondary readiness, but it's times like these that I think school counselors can be so uniquely impactful. I went over all of the amazing opportunities available to him, such as Colorado ASSET, scholarships available for undocumented students, DACA, concurrent enrollment and ASCENT. I could see his spirits lift. For the first time in a long time, he felt hopeful about his future. He finally believed all of those times he heard, "You can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be." Last week, I helped him get his final documents together for his DACA application. Additionally, he plans to access concurrent enrollment opportunities this spring at Emily Griffith Technical College. His attendance has improved, he is engaged in his education and he is passing his classes! -- Kaylee Torno, Respect Academy

    I had a 12th grade student last year who is undocumented. The student took CE and did CU Success offered in our school. Since we are a new school, little did the student know that she was qualified to be in the ASCENT program. We called the ASCENT liaison and helped the student enrolled at CCD. The student is now taking Criminal Justice classes and is very grateful for the opportunity that DPS and ASCENT provided for her. Now, she comes and talks to our students to take CE classes and to take advantage of the ASCENT program.
    --Claudia Koesler, DCIS at Montbello


  • Counseling, College Success and Student Engagement
    1860 Linoln St., 10th floor
    Denver, CO  80203

    Joanna Wood  

    Joanna Wood 
    Director of Counseling, College Access and Student Engagement


    Katie Gianatasio 
    Senior Manager, Counseling and College Access