Past New Jersey State School Counselors of the Year

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) celebrates state representatives for the School Counselor of the Year program.

The School Counselor of the Year program honors the professionals who devote their careers to serving as advocates for the nation’s students, helping them achieve success in school and in life.

Nominations for the School Counselor of the Year awards program are submitted by the state school counselor associations. State representatives were selected based on several criteria, including: school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership and advocacy skills and contributions to student advancement.

“School counselors make significant contributions to the overall well‐being of students and their success,” said Richard Wong, Ed.D., executive director, American School Counselor Association. “They have unique qualifications and skills that allow them to address students’ academic achievement, career development and social/emotional needs.”

Brian D'Ottavio is the 2018 New Jersey School Counselor of the Year. He attending the American School Counselor Association Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. in February 2019.

Brian D'Ottavio is the 2018 New Jersey School Counselor of the Year. He attending the American School Counselor Association Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. in February 2019.


2018 - Brian D'Ottavio

Dr. Piera Gravenor, Superintendent commented, “Mr. D’Ottavio is more than just an excellent school counselor for our students. He is a mentor, a sounding board, an advisor, a life coach, and an amazing role model. Our students and staff are better for having Brian D’Ottavio as part of our Delsea family.”

Delsea Regional High School principal, Paul Berardelli, added, “Brain D’Ottavio is a game-changer! He has taken on the very challenging job of making sure that our seniors are on track to graduate and pursue their future endeavors. Mr. D’Ottavio is always willing to volunteer his time to the students and staff of Delsea, helping us shine.”

Delsea Regional High School Guidance Director, Melissa Pilitowski stated, "Brian D'Ottavio is an invaluable part of the high school guidance team. His knowledge of the transition process for seniors to college and careers is second to none! He is an amazing resource. The students appreciate his patience and his organization." 

Brian is a Buena Regional High School graduate, who went on to receive his Bachelor's degree in History from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. He continued his education at West Chester (Masters of Education in School Counseling) and St. John's University (Masters of Arts in Asian Studies). Before starting his counseling career at Delsea, Brian taught English as a Second Language in Taipei Taiwan and worked for a luxury tour company in New York and Pennsylvania with a focus on Asian/African/Middle Eastern travel. Brian has visited over 25 countries and can speak Mandarin and Spanish. 

Since coming to Delsea, Brian has worked two years at the middle school and four at the high school. He is currently in his third year as the sole counselor for the entire senior class. "I really enjoy the college and career transition aspect of my job," he said. "Helping students get through one of the most stressful and important times in their young lives is very rewarding." 

Mr. D'Ottavio has been -- and is currently -- involved in many school activities and clubs. He is the co-adviser of the Class of 2018, the co-adviser of the Gay-Straight Alliance, and the counselor for Delsea's Alternative School program. In the past he has been the program coordinator for the middle school SHAPE program, a middle school Student Council Adviser, and the director of the middle school's "Wall of Character" initiative that highlights students who make positive choices. 

Currently, Brian is an adjunct professor with Wilmington University and is teaching a class for the Master of Education in School Counseling Program. 


2017 - Angela Cleveland, M.S.Ed., M.Ed., MA

In the fields of education and school counseling, Ms. Cleveland is a true advocate of the use of technology by both students and colleagues. She is a Google Certified Educator and champions the use of technology not only in the field of counseling but also to expand student learning as well as to collaborate with fellow staff members. She is a strong promoter of equal access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and firmly believes in the critical need to eliminate myths about who can succeed in those fields.

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2016 - Dana Karas

As a New Jersey educator for 25 years, Dana Karas has served in the capacity of French teacher, school counselor, and Director of School Counseling. Within the counseling profession, she takes pride in taking a lead position in advocating for school counselors, both locally and across the state, through her work with the New Jersey School Counselor Evaluation Tool, as well as actively serving as an executive board member of the New Jersey School Counselor Association. She is passionate about continuing education for school counselors and the impactful role that school counselors play on school-wide initiatives.


2015 - Dara Kurilew

Dana Kurilew is a graduate of the Department of Counselor Education at The College of New Jersey and has served in the capacity of a counselor as well as a supervisor.  She is currently the Supervisor of Counseling at Hunterdon Central Regional High School.  In 2013-2014, Dana was named both the Hunterdon County High School Counselor of the Year, and High School Counselor of the Year for 2014 by the New Jersey School Counseling Association.  Her professional goal is to continue serving on the NJSCA team and providing advocacy, resources, and leadership for the thousands of Professional School Counselors around the state.