In any profession, it is an honor to be recognized for your hard work. One of the highest honors for the school counseling profession is to be recognized as the School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association.

Kat Pastor is a school counselor at Flagstaff High School in Flagstaff, Arizona and an adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff serves more than 1,600 students and the guidance department strives to provide service based on the best practices in the industry. One unique aspect of this school is nearly 160 of the Native American students live away from home in a dormitory. It can be a difficult adjustment for the student and their families and counselors must ensure they effectively communicate important information with the families and help students adjust to the change. One person who continues to make that adjustment a little easier is Kat Pastor.

“You build these relationships with these students because you let them know you really care,” said Pastor.

Pastor’s care for her students and success as a school counselor led her to be recognized as the 2016 School Counselor of the Year. The honor included a trip to the White House where she got to meet First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Every kid can always be successful. They just have to decide if they want to do it or not.” says Pastor.

What makes someone qualified to be a School Counselor of the Year? The award program is meant to honor the school counselors who are running top-notch, comprehensive school-counseling programs.

Flagstaff’s guidance department continues to demonstrate that their hard work to put their students first is paying off. They have a 12.8 percent increase in college acceptance rates, 50 percent increase in the number of colleges that visit their campus, and a graduation rate of 91 percent. Read more here.

Pastor is dedicated to continuous improvement and always thinking about how her team can do things better. Some improvements she’s spearheaded include:

  • Starting a College Application Completion Day.
  • Creating a “Career and Counseling Center.”
  • Implementing Naviance by Hobsons (link: to provide counseling lessons and access to ECAP files.
  • Advocating for funding for training opportunities for counselors.
  • Helping increase the Flagstaff College Fair participation from 50 to more than 120.

Listen to the Upgraded by Hobsons podcast extra credit with Kat Pastor to hear about her experience at the White House Ceremony. 


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