The Louisiana School Counselor Association has chosen Candace Sharper, of St. Amant Middle School, as its 2019 middle school counselor of the year.
“Candace is the epitome of a great counselor," said Linda Honey, supervisor of child welfare and attendance for the Ascension Parish schools. "She is energetic, personable, professional and innovative. She projects an aura of quiet dignity and is noted for her compassion and dedication to her students."
Sharper is president of the Ascension Parish School Counseling Association and teaches a student leadership group at SAMS. With the help of her student leadership group, she also runs an initiative called “The Wildcat Way,” a schoolwide character education program that informs students about character traits that, if encompassed by all students, help to create a safe, caring and inclusive school environment.
She and the class put on weekly celebrations highlighting a focus trait and produce videos for each trait that go out to all of the students. Besides that, she meets with students and parents daily, helps with enrollment and scheduling and acts as the testing coordinator. Out of everything she does, Sharper said her favorite thing about her job is “getting the hugs in the hallway.”
Sharper started working at St. Amant Middle in 2013 after previously serving as a counselor at LSU. As a college counselor, she saw an abundance of cases where students were unprepared and unaware of what they wanted to do. She felt that if she could make a difference before the college level and have those critical conversations early on, she could make a greater impact on the future of the students, drawing her to middle school counseling.
Sharper holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from LSU and a master’s degree in community mental health. After deciding she wanted to work in a school, she went back to school to earn a specialist’s degree in school counseling.