Brandy Peters Named 2023-2024 JCPS School Counselor Of The Year

Recently named 2023-2024 JCPS School Counselor of the Year Brandy Peters stands in front of her office at South Johnston High.  

SMITHFIELD – Brandy Peters, the 12th grade counselor at South Johnston High, was named 2023-2024 Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) School Counselor of the Year. The award was presented to Peters at the Student Services School Counselor Celebration as part of National School Counseling Week.

Peters is a 21-year veteran school counselor, and has spent her entire career with JCPS at South Johnston High. Originally from central Virginia, Peters headed off to High Point University with her eyes set on becoming a physical therapist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine, with an add on certification in K-12 physical education certification.

Just three days before graduation, Peters was offered a position as an athletic trainer at a middle/high school back in Virginia. There was a catch. The position also included Peters teaching 7th grade science. She accepted the challenge and started working alongside a physical therapist through the athletic training position. Through that position, Peters was able to finish accumulating all the hours she needed to complete the application for physical therapy school.

She was subsequently accepted into the program, but something was pulling at her heart. Peters realized how much she missed the interaction with students, being in a school environment, and making an impact on the lives of others. So, she declined the invitation to physical therapy school and enrolled in a school counselor curriculum.

The decision to pursue a career as a school counselor goes back to her own high school days.

“My high school counselor was an amazing gentleman,” she said. “He advocated for me, for lots of my friends, and he’s one of the reasons I ended up as a high school counselor.”

So in 2002, with her new found purpose and a degree in hand, Peters was ready for a change of scenery. Her days at High Point University were instrumental in the decision to move to North Carolina. Having friends and family in and around Raleigh, Peters got a sense of the area.

After applying to a few different school districts, JCPS wasted no time scooping up this excellent talent. Before she could get back to Virginia, Peters was offered a position, and within a week she was working at South Johnston High. The rest is history.

Brandy Peters, 2023-2024 JCPS School Counselor of the Year, smiles as she and other school counselors from the district gathered in celebration of National School Counseling Week.

Her love of, and one of the main reasons she has stayed at South Johnston High for 21 years, is because of the tight-knit, loyal community at the school. Many of the staff members there were at one time students of Peters. In fact, she has had several of her students go to college, study to be a school counselor, and have returned to South Johnston High as school counselors. “It’s like that proud Momma moment,” she said.

Although there are challenging times in her role, Peters knows she is making a difference in the lives of her students. She has witnessed this first hand many times, but there is one example that stands out in her mind.

As the 12th grade counselor, Peters attends the annual graduation ceremony to assist students as they prepare to receive their diplomas. Like a loving mother, she fixes the students’ tassels and straightens their gowns to make sure they look their absolute best when they walk across the stage. She also gives them encouragement, praise, and lots of high fives.

One year, a student she had known all four years of his time at South Johnston High told her right before he walked across the stage, “You’re the only person in four years that told me they loved me every time I saw them.”

Something as simple as an acknowledgement like “Good morning” or “How are you today?” contributes to the well-being of students whether they show it or not. “The kids just need to know that somebody loves and cares about them,” she said.

Peters would like to impress upon people that school counselors wear many hats, often at the same time. From being a cheerleader on the sideline, a mentor, a parent figure, or a nurse, no two days are ever duplicated. These uniquely qualified educators also act as liaisons between students, teachers, and families creating best practices and developing strategies for students to be successful in whatever path they choose after high school.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in this effort, and she knows that there is a network of colleagues to assist her. By collaborating with the other three school counselors at South Johnston High, and the Student Services team, Peters is able to extrapolate methods and practices best suited for each individual student. “The amount of support here is amazing!” she exclaimed. “Johnston County Public Schools as a whole is all about building relationships.”

The first recipient of the JCPS School Counselor of the Year award, Peters accepted the award with humility at the School Counselor Celebration, saluting her team, colleagues, and administrators. ”This award speaks to everyone that is in this room, in that the people I work with, and work for, make me look a lot better than I ever can be,” she said.

1 COMMENT

  1. Congratulations! Thank you for your dedicated service to the students, families, and staff of South Johnston and JCPS! Thank you most of all for telling them and showing them that they matter and that you love them and are proud of them…So many need that and don’t get it at home. God bless you!

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