Skip to main content

Counselors of the Year Announced

Counselors of the Year 2024.jpg

Three staff members have been honored with 2023–2024 Counselor of the Year awards. The trio—one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels—were recognized at the June 11 Board of Education business meeting.

The 2023–2024 Counselors of the Year are: AnneMarie (Anna) Hetrick, Candlewood Elementary School; Richard Solomon, Silver Spring International Middle School; and Melanie Khani, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Read more about them:

AnneMarie Hetrick, Candlewood Elementary School

Anna Hetrick is in her 17th year as the school counselor at Candlewood Elementary School.

When she was hired at Candlewood, she was given the opportunity to create her own program. She has introduced programs to help students become problem solvers and manage conflict in peaceful ways.

She is a member of the Instructional Leadership Team and CORE Team. She is the school’s Restorative Justice Coach and Student Well-Being Team lead. For more than 10 years, she has been the Safety Patrol sponsor and coached Girls on the Run for three seasons. She also welcomes students and staff to school on the daily announcements, where she shares messages about spreading kindness. 

Hetrick is an active and compassionate listener. Every day, her office is filled with students reaching out for support, a laugh or even social skills practice. She shows leadership through the many collaborative relationships she’s fostered with colleagues, students, families and community members. She coordinates an extensive campaign to support families in need with holiday help by providing families with food baskets and clothing. She delivered them to families without transportation or whose job schedules kept them from picking up during school hours. She also leads the school’s Career Day.

She worked in long-term substitute positions at Whetstone Elementary and Lake Seneca Elementary schools, and at Westland Middle School, which allowed her to learn about the counselor role and see how different schools and administrators operate.

Richard Solomon, Silver Spring International Middle School

A counselor in MCPS since 2007, Richard Solomon has been at Silver Spring International for nine years. He primarily serves students in eighth grade and students who are in Level 1 and 2 Emerging Language Development classes. As resource counselor, he leads the counseling department and serves as one of the master schedulers. He also leads the Well-Being Team, helps new students enroll and manages Section 504 plans for students in his grade level.

He also began and led a Saturday School program, an initiative started last year to support students with chronic truancy and tardiness issues. He incorporated meetings with parents and parent education with tutors who work with students to help them re-engage in school. Due to their popularity, the meetings became monthly information sessions and parent support “cafecitos,” now led by the parent community coordinator.

Solomon previously served in the Peace Corps, and is fluent in Spanish and French. Colleagues say he is resilient and kind, has a calm demeanor, and has strong crisis management and organizational skills that help students and staff feel safe and secure at school. He is highly collaborative, open to new ideas and approaches, and uses the strengths of his team while also supporting them to achieve at high levels in their roles.

In addition to being a counselor in Maryland, he has also served as one in Cameroon and Cote D’Ivoire. He has completed his licensure in administration and supervision.

Melanie Khani, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

Melanie Khani has been a school counselor in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) cluster for 20 years. Last year, she took on a new role at B-CC High School, serving as counselor for the school’s 230 Emergent Multilingual Learners (EMLs).

Attendance is a challenging issue within the EML population. Khani regularly meets with students and guardians to address poor attendance. She also conducts home visits when typical attendance interventions are not successful. Believing that all can learn and students should be pushed to challenge themselves, Khani works hard to increase the number of EML students taking Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses. She’s also working on raising the graduation rate for the school’s EML population.

Colleagues say that Khani is always looking for innovative ways to help students achieve. She considers students’ individual stories and needs when creating their schedules. Understanding that many students need to work full-time jobs to support themselves or their families, she creates schedules that allow for academic and personal success. She works tirelessly to instill in students a desire to learn and achieve, regardless of their background or circumstances. She also actively promotes inclusivity and diversity, ensuring that all students have equal access to educational opportunities and support systems in and out of school.

Khani previously spent 10 years as counselor at Westland Middle School, and created the first Gay Straight Alliance at a middle school in MCPS.