District selects lead counselor for Beaufort County schools

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A veteran school counselor and retired U.S. Marine has been selected as the lead counselor for Beaufort County’s schools and alternative education programs.

Geri Henderson has served for the past four years as the lead counselor at Whale Branch Early College High School, where she worked with Principal Priscilla Drake to introduce an early college program.  Students can graduate from the program with South Carolina high school diplomas and also with associate’s degrees from the Technical College of

New school district lead Counselor Geri Henderson speaks to counselors from each school in the district before the start of the 2014-15 school year.
New school district lead Counselor Geri Henderson speaks to counselors from each school in the district before the start of the 2014-15 school year.

the Lowcountry.

“Geri Henderson has a strong counseling background and a strong record of successful work,” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “She combines a no-nonsense approach with a genuine affection for students, and I’m confident that she will do a terrific job in her new position.”

In her new district-wide role, Henderson will:

• Work with school administrators, counselors, teachers, students and parents in developing individual growth plans for students.

• Assist high schools in creating a systematic process to increase college scholarships and help parents with the meeting the financial challenges of attending two- and four-year colleges.

• Develop more real-world business internships and job-shadowing opportunities for students.

• Lead district counselors in partnering with colleges to increase dual-enrollment opportunities for students.

• Work with schools to determine the best instructional approaches for each student.

• Coordinate effective training for counselors across the district.

During her 20-year career in the Marine Corps, Henderson served as a drill instructor and marksmanship instructor before transitioning into positions focusing on counseling.  She was stationed in locations ranging from Parris Island to California to Japan and earned two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and other citations for exemplary performance.  In 1990, she was honored as Parris Island’s Counselor of the Year.

After leaving the Marine Corps, she served for eight years as school-to-career counselor at the Beaufort-Jasper Academy of Career Excellence.

While serving as the lead counselor at Whale Branch Early College High School, Henderson was selected as the 2012 State Educator of the Year by the South Carolina School Resource Officer’s Organization.

“She’s much more than a counselor, almost like a mom to our kids,” Whale Branch Principal Drake said when Henderson’s statewide recognition was announced in 2012.  “She makes sure that students – and their parents, too – know what it’s going to take to graduate from high school and make plans to succeed after high school.”

Henderson has a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of South Carolina and a master’s degree in education from Cambridge College in Augusta, Ga.  She holds certifications as a school guidance counselor, family preservation counselor and military career and education counselor.