School counselors professors
Trish Hatch, second from right, accepts an honor from the California Association of School Counselors in 2016. Photo credit:

Three advisers, two in Poway and one in the South Bay, have received San Diego County Counselor of the Year honors.

The San Diego County Office of Education named a winner for each level – elementary, middle and high school:

  • Fran Hjalmarson, Los Penasquitos Elementary, Poway Unified School District; a counselor at the school for 18 years, she also mentors those new in the field, supervising 21 counseling interns.
  • Nicole Pablo, Twin Peaks Middle School, Poway Unified; she joined Twin Peaks in 2018 and serves as the lead for counselors working at the middle school level in the district.
  • Christine Araki, Launch Virtual Academy, Sweetwater Union High School District; a counselor for more than 20 years, Araki joined the academy last summer.

The three Counselor of the Year awards, sponsored by North Island Credit Union, include a $500 check. 

In addition, two new awards, Advocate of the Year and Lifetime Achievement, went to Tami Johnson, district school counselor and program specialist at the Cajon Valley Union School District, and Trish Hatch, professor emeritus at San Diego State University, author and founder of a training institute for counselors and administrators, respectively.

The honorees, said San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold, “demonstrate how important school counselors are to student success. During the past two years as students and families faced new and evolving challenges during the pandemic, school counselors served as critical lifelines who could connect students with additional support and access to mental and social-emotional resources.”

The three school Counselor of the Year honorees were chosen out of 16 submissions. All five counselors will be recognized in February at a new event, “Honoring Excellence in School Counseling Leadership.”