School employees who support the mental health of Delaware students are being recognized for their work.
The state will name its first Delaware Behavioral Health Professional of the Year later this month. Seventeen* school districts and the Delaware Charter School Network named local Behavioral Health Professionals of the Year for 2022. Following an application and interview process, one of those 18 will be named the state honoree.
“I am grateful that through this new recognition program we now have a way to spotlight the critical support these employees provide to our students and families,” Secretary of Education Mark Holodick said. “Due to the nature of their work, these professionals build close, trust-dependent relationships. They help students and families navigate challenges and find the supports they need so they can be healthy and successful in school and life. The trauma and challenges our students and families experienced through COVID-19 has only grown our state’s already great need for this work. Behavioral health professionals are critical to the success of our schools and communities.”
The Delaware State Behavioral Health Professional of the Year (BHPY) program is administered by the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE). The program recognizes outstanding service by school employees who are health care practitioners or human service providers who offer services for the purpose of improving an individual’s mental health. The Delaware Charter School Network also is invited to participate. Employees considered for the award include:
- School counselors
- School social workers
- Licensed clinical social workers
- School psychologists
- School nurses
From those nominated at a local level, one behavioral health professional of the year moves forward to represent each district or the charter school community in the state program. Each district/charter network winner receives a $2,000 personal award from the winner’s district or charter school. The state program then chooses one person annually to serve as Delaware’s Behavioral Health Professional of the Year. State winners receive an additional $3,000 personal award from DDOE as well as $5,000 to be used for the educational benefit of his or her students.
The 2022 District/Charter Behavioral Health Professionals of the Year are:
- Brandywine School District: Sheila Pickering, school nurse, Forwood Elementary School
- Caesar Rodney School District: Maria Romanko, school psychologist, Caesar Rodney High School
- Cape Henlopen School District: Felicia Kaas, school psychologist, Shields Elementary School
- Capital School District: Andrew Royer, school psychologist, Capital Early Childhood Program
- Charter School Network: Debbie Holstein, school nurse, ASPIRA Academy
- Christina School District: Michelle Cain, school psychologist, Christiana High School
- Colonial School District: Devon D. Stockton, school therapist, George Read Middle School
- Delmar School District: Ilah Preston, school counselor, Delmar Middle School
- Indian River School District: Amy Goodhue, clinical counselor, Long Neck Elementary School
- Lake Forest School District: Jana Jarrell, school nurse, North Elementary School
- Laurel School District: Catina Goff, school counselor, Laurel High School
- Milford School District: Rosa DiPiazza, school psychologist, Mispillion Elementary School
- New Castle County Vo-Tech School District: Tenika Jean-Paul, school psychologist, St. Georges Technical High School
- POLYTECH School District: Peggy McKibbin, school nurse, POLYTECH High School
- Red Clay Consolidated School District: Eric Pizzini, school psychologist, Cab Calloway School of the Arts
- Seaford School District: Jordan Forston, school counselor, West Seaford Elementary School
- Sussex Technical School District: Michael Firch, school counselor, Sussex Technical High School
- Woodbridge School District: Dawn Ellis, school nurse, Woodbridge High School
Find photos of the nominees here.
*Appoquinimink did not participate in the 2022 program. Smyrna has recognized school counselor Toni Hendricks of John Bassett Moore Intermediate School as its 2022 District Behavioral Health Professional of the Year. The district selection was made after the state application and interview process so Smyrna was not included in the state program this year.
Media contact: Alison May, email@example.com, 302-735-4006