Chaminade alumna recognized for her work and contributions
In a teary emotional speech she gave after returning from Washington, D.C. as the 2023 Hawai‘i School Counselor of the Year, Brittnie Caraulia thanked her Helemano Elementary School colleagues, expressing her gratitude for their support and all the work that they do for the keiki.
“This is the highest honor,” said Caraulia, MSCP ’15, on being honored with the 2023 Hawai‘i School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) during its annual National School Counselor of the Year ceremonies in the nation’s capital. “This brings me the greatest joy in life, and I’m proud of everything that we do together.”
The ASCA School Counselor of the Year award honors professionals who devote their careers to advocating for the nation’s students and addressing their academic and social-emotional development, and college and career readiness needs. Honorees were judged based on their ability to create systemic change within the school counseling profession.
“The role of our school counselors are so integral to the success of our students,” said Hawai‘i Department of Education Superintendent, Keith Hayashi, in a news release. “Now more than ever, we rely on their expertise and guidance in creating positive and innovative ways to enhance the academic and social-emotional needs of our students. The Department is grateful to have counselors like Ms. Caraulia in our schools, every day, working tirelessly to advocate for and support student success. She is a shining example of Helemano’s efforts to grow a ‘leaderful’ organization.”
A school counselor for grades 3-5 at Helemano Elementary since 2019 and a Hawai‘i State Department of Education school counselor since 2015, one of Caraulia’s greatest accomplishments has been establishing a data-driven Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) program within her school. The program takes a systemic approach to monitoring student success, creating school-wide, social-emotional learning (SEL) initiatives that focus on quality teacher-student relationships. As a result of implementing this program, students’ perception of overall school safety improved from 56 percent to over 90 percent.
Caraulia also helped to establish a Helemano School Counseling Program, where she conducts quarterly training for staff on SEL interventions and classroom management, collaborates with teachers to incorporate SEL into their core curriculum, creates biweekly SEL lessons for all grade levels, and has designed a referral system to make data-informed decisions for all students. The school counseling program now serves as a foundation for student social-emotional, behavioral and academic success. Caraulia regularly trains staff on the program and has even shared the success of this program with other elementary schools across the state.
“Ms. Caraulia is an indispensable resource to our school—providing an excellent counseling program, a fierce devotion to students and teachers, and an innovative method of vastly advancing the social and emotional needs of our students,” Helemano Elementary Principal Ernest Muh said. “She advocates vigorously for all students at our school by collaborating with parents and teachers to determine the most beneficial course of action to assist each individual student.”
Caraulia’s passion in serving her school community is felt individually and collectively throughout the school by both teachers and students. In addition to helping the students, Caraulia has cultivated a nurturing environment for teachers, focusing on their mental health and wellness needs. She has an open-door policy for any staff needing to share personal or professional concerns and has spearheaded activities that promote and prioritize staff well-being.
“My proudest accomplishment during my time as a school counselor at Helemano Elementary has been establishing a data-driven MTSS and school counseling program,” Caraulia said. “What I find most rewarding about being a school counselor is the relationships I build with my students, staff and families.”