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Every year, members of AzSCA take the time to nominate exceptional colleagues for professional awards.

Recipients are honored during the Awards Luncheon at our annual conference. The following awards are presented:

Click the links above to learn more about each award.


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Kristina Guy is the Campus Counselor at West-MEC’s Northwest Campus, a Career and Technical Education District serving western Maricopa County.  She is the only counselor on a campus with 590 11th and 12th grade students earning industry certifications in preparation for their post-secondary pathways.  Upon joining the Northwest Campus, Kristina has worked to move from a mostly career focused philosophy to transitioning to a comprehensive counseling program aligning with the ASCA National Model. 

Kristina’s greatest accomplishment is bringing the Jumpstart to College and Career event to her district.  An event for junior students, no matter their post-secondary pathway, to learn, plan, and prepare for what lies beyond graduation. 

Kristina began her career in education in 2003 and moved to the counseling side in 2012.  A double graduate of NAU, Kristina earned her Bachelors of Science in English Education and a Masters of School Counseling.  Kristina is a member of ASCA, the Arizona School Counselors Association, the Association for Career and Technical Education at the National (ACTE) and State (ACTEAZ) level and is a completer of the Fellows Advocacy and Leadership training through ACTEAZ.

As a fourth generation Arizona native, it is important to Kristina to educate and strengthen the future of our tomorrow.


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Sholanda L. Smith (she, her, hers) was born and raised in Arkansas, in a small town outside of Memphis, TN. Prior to moving to Arizona, Sholanda lived in Covington, GA ("The Hollywood of the South), with her husband (Adrian) and four children (Adrian, Garrique, Alaina, and Justice).

Sholanda began her career, in education, in 2010, in the Cartwright School District, as an Exceptional Student Services educator. She has also taught in the Dysart Unified School District, where she implemented and monitored the district's Math 180 program. Sholanda moved to the Agua Fria Union High School District, in 2018, to join the Canyon View High School Jaguar family, where she is currently and proudly serving in her role of School Counselor of the distinguished change agents of 2023 and the sponsor of the campus' Interact Club and the Girls Who Code Club and a co-sponsor of Black Student Union and Bring Change 2 Mind. Sholanda also serves on the campus' Diversity Committee. 

Sholanda is passionate about work involving equity, diversity, and inclusion, reducing opportunity gaps for students, empowering and confidence-building in youth, cultural competency dialogues and practices, trauma-awareness teaching, and being an abolitionist for the silent, the unheard, and the invisible. 

Sholanda has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, from Spelman College. She has also received a Master's degree in Special Education, from Grand Canyon University, and a Master's degree in School Counseling, from Ottawa University. Sholanda is involved in several community-based and professional activities and organizations.


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Brenda Vargas is a natural-born leader who advocates for students and the critical need for more professional school counselors daily. Her current position as the Director of Counseling and Social Services for the Chandler Unified School District provides her with significant opportunities to advocate for our profession. Brenda is responsible for leading all school counselors and social workers district wide. She has developed procedures, regulations, and training used throughout all K-12 schools allowing professional school counselors to promote student wellness, mental health and provide information and resources to students, parents, and staff. She has provided researched based suicide prevention training for all staff in contact with students including certified staff, classified staff and administrators. As a member of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, and the Chandler Education Foundation, Brenda connects with key supporters of professional school counselor efforts. Through her active participation in community leadership activities, she has built collaborative partnerships to support students. Before being named to this role in 2018, Brenda was the assistant high school principal with oversight and responsibility for the Special Education and Career and Technical Education department ensuring that all students received a well-rounded and engaging curriculum driven by student interest and learning opportunities. She credits this role with teaching her that the impossible can be achieved by remaining grounded in what students, staff and parents need, having a willingness to have courageous conversations and blending in a dose of healthy self-awareness with unstoppable faith to achieve the impossible. 

Ms. Vargas’s career spans nearly 20 years, 16 years of which have been at Chandler Unified, where she has grown and evolved from teacher, to counselor, to administration. Ms. Vargas earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and certificate in School Counseling and a Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education from Cleveland State University in Ohio.  Additionally, she is a certified trainer for Mental Health First Aid and ASIST (suicide prevention).


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Shannah Newman began her journey into education as a parent volunteer when her youngest of 4 children began Kindergarten in 2017. She has performed many roles over the years from classroom aide to crossing guard and many in between. When she started, she knew she wanted to do more, help more and have a positive impact on the lives of the students. Working with students ignited a passion for education and especially one for our more challenging tier 3 students. Mrs. Newman is currently the librarian at Stevenson Elementary School serving a campus of approximately 600 students in grades K through 6. She started this year off by completely reorganizing and redecorating the Media Center to create a more welcoming and inviting environment for the students. She also created a book review wall and in just a month had over 100 student written book reviews. She opened the media center during recess and before school for students to come visit and talk about books, video games, superheroes or anything else the students want to share with her. Mrs. Newman has worked hard over the last couple year developing individual meaningful relationships with every single student on the campus. She is finishing up her BA in Elementary Education with an anticipated graduation later this year. She hopes to turn the media center into the hub of the school. She wants to promote social emotional learning, a STEM lab, book clubs for our more avid readers and a place with additional support for our most challenging students. Her passion is learning new things and hopes to help her students develop a love of learning as well.