College of Education > About > Alumni & Professional Partners > Alumni Newsletter > Spring 2019 > DePaul is a Game Changer
By Action in Education /
June 1, 2019 /
Posted in: Feature Article /
The cartwheel was entirely unplanned.
Representatives of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), including 2018 winner Kirsten Perry (MEd ’11), wanted to surprise the winner of the 2019 National Counselor of the Year award at his workplace. They succeeded.
“I had no idea what the assembly was about, and then I saw Kirsten’s face and I just lost it,” says Brian Coleman (MEd ’14), whose spontaneous cartwheel of joy was captured by news media. Although he was one of six finalists for the title, Coleman figured the odds were low that the award would go to alumni of the same college working for the same district two years in a row.
“DePaul really sets an incredibly strong foundation, and CPS has been doing powerful work creating consistency around what it means to counsel throughout the district,” says Coleman, who is department chair of counseling services at Jones College Preparatory High School in Chicago’s South Loop.
As an intern at Jones, Coleman helped a student group broaden its focus to serve all LGBTQIA students. When he returned to the high school the following year as a staff counselor, he launched counseling services for the same population. He has headed cross-disciplinary teams and initiatives to ensure that the school’s social and emotional support system parallels its acclaimed academic programs, including expanded sexual health education, self-care workshops for its seniors and increased awareness of and support for first-generation students. Coleman made such an impression that after Jones more than doubled in size to 1,900 students, he was promoted to head of the six-person counseling team.
“Brian is truly talented and deeply committed to building a more just society through education,” says LaToya Hudson-Spells, former school counseling department co-chair at Jones. “He has done so much for our school community in his short tenure as a school counselor.”
Coleman credits his success to COE, the ASCA counseling model and the high school’s commitment to counseling.
Now he is exploring how best to serve counselors nationally. “Counselors’ roles at schools can look as different as night and day from school to school, throughout our district and around the country,” he says. “Part of my role as National School Counselor of the Year is to bring to the forefront that counselors can do a lot of wonderful things in schools, given the resources, the time, the flexibility and the support they need.”