Jeff Bennett, the counselor at , was surprised with an award ceremony and a reception in his honor on Tuesday, March 20 to recognize him as the 2012 Cherokee County Counselor of the Year.
Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo presented Bennett with a plaque during the surprise ceremony in the school’s auditorium attended by CCSD and River Ridge administrators, River Ridge students in Bennett’s annual Leadership Quest program and Bennett’s parents.
“Mr. Bennett isn’t looking for the credit – he’s looking for you to be as successful as you can be,” Dr. Petruzielo told the students after congratulating Bennett. “He’s here for you…what he wants is to see that smile on your face and see you headed in the right direction.”
Bennett qualified for the award by being nominated as the Counselor of the Year for the River Ridge Zone, which includes the high school and its feeder middle school and elementary schools. A panel of veteran educators selected Bennett as the Cherokee County Counselor of the Year from the six eligible Zone winners. He now will compete for the Georgia Counselor of the Year honor, which will be presented this summer.
“I come to school every day because I love what I do. It’s all because of you,” Bennett told the students after accepting the award. “I appreciate this award...but I do it all for you.”
Bennett was a counseling icon at before he accepted the challenge of opening a new high school, serving as the first (and for two years, the only) counselor at River Ridge High, where he has been serving the growing student body of Knights since 2009. He has focused not only on serving the needs of students and staff, but also on growing a culture within the school.
Bennett, who holds three bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees, plus a specialist degree in guidance and counseling from Georgia State University, created new programs at River Ridge, such as the “Crusading Knights,” for building student character and bully prevention; and the “Knightly Quest for Lifelong Success” evening speaker series for students and parents on college and career choices. Many know Bennett as the voice of the River Ridge Knights, as he serves as announcer for football, basketball, soccer and lacrosse events.
“The comprehensive counseling program that I have attempted to start at River Ridge High School starts by holding me accountable as a role model for my students, teachers, administrators and parents,” Bennett said. “Children may not listen to adults, but they will definitely model how we act and behave.”