Celebrating excellence in school counseling
School counselor Valiza Cameron-Patterson joined the team at Solar Preparatory School For Girls at James B. Bonham not long before a crisis. A beloved community member had passed away, leaving students, families and staff bereft.
Cameron-Patterson dove in headfirst to help them process their grief and to build her counseling program from the ground up to provide daily social and emotional learning, cement strong relationships and give her school community the resources they needed to heal and be successful.
Her hard work has helped transform student lives over the next few years and earned her recognition as a Texas School Counselor of the Year semifinalist.
“I attended the conference my first year as a school counselor, and I remember thinking, ‘One day, that could be me,’” Cameron-Patterson said. “To be in the same room as counselors who have 15 or more years of experience was a big deal, especially when this was something that I had been working toward as I got my program off the ground.”
Cameron-Patterson, who taught for five years and is now in her fifth year as a school counselor, first found out that she had been nominated for the award last March. When she heard, she said she felt “overjoyed.”
“My mom has always said, ‘When you enter the world, you should be an asset to the world,’ and I felt being a school counselor was the best way to help,” Cameron-Patterson said. “I make sure that I am a part of every single student’s life here at Solar, because I want to be a part of their family.”
Each day brings new challenges as Cameron-Patterson delivers guidance lessons, offers student and parent consultation sessions and manages crises, but she is up for the task. One of her goals moving forward is to research and implement additional social and emotional practices that specifically catered to the needs of middle school students.
“Some people think school counselors are in the background, but the parents here know me by name,” Cameron-Patterson said. “When they see me in the hallway and say they need to call me, I say, ‘Let me call you.’ I just want to ensure that students feel seen and heard and so do their parents and teachers.”
Cameron-Patterson is proud to be among Dallas ISD’s 400+ school counselors as they work to sustain comprehensive programs that encourage social, emotional and academic growth while challenging students to become independent thinkers and responsible citizens. While she is excited to represent them as a semifinalist for Texas School Counselor of the Year, her commitment stems not from the accomplishment but from her passion to make the world a better place.
“Our students push us even as adults to be the fiercest females possible,” Cameron-Patterson said. “It’s nice to show them that even though we have made it into our career, we are all still striving for greatness.”