Texas State Technical College named Salado High School counselor Anita Morales one of the state’s top high school counselors.

TSTC advisers selected more than 100 nominees before Morales was announced as Counselor of the Year.

“She is an incredible advocate for our students and is always looking for any avenue available to help our students at the post-secondary level,” Salado High School Principal Burt Smith said.

“She has taken a group of students every year to TSTC, Temple College and other area schools to show them a few of the opportunities available to them. A lot of times, it’s the at-risk students who might not have been thinking much about college.”

Morales’ efforts did not go unnoticed or unappreciated, Smith said.

“She was actually nominated by the TSTC advisers for this award,” he said. “She’s taken it upon herself to make sure our students have a chance to visit the colleges. ... She’s done a wonderful job of looking out for our students.”

This is Morales’ first year at Salado High School.

She previously worked for the Temple Independent School District for several years, and also for the Choices program, a collaborative alternative education outreach of the Academy, Rogers, Holland, Salado and Troy school districts.

“She has a lot of strengths, but her greatest strength is having a real heart for the students,” said Michael Novotny, superintendent of the Salado school district.

Morales’ ability to connect with students is a real asset, he said.

“High school counselor is such a crucial position, because she not only helps the students get through high school, but she prepares them for life after high school, whether that’s going to college, going into the military or into the workforce,” he said.

Morales’ co-workers went out of their way to let Novotny know how strong of an impact she had on her students and fellow educators, he said.

“I’ve heard such positive comments from students, parents and teachers about the job she does,” Novotny said. “She’s certainly deserving of the award, and we’re glad she joined Salado High School.”

Morales is passionate about her job, she said, and enjoys the opportunity to make a difference in students’ lives.

“I’ve had the honor of being a counselor for several years, and I enjoy helping kids graduate from high school and looking to what’s beyond that for them,” she said.

It’s gratifying to know she’s helped students achieve goals in life, Morales said.

“I love what I do, and I know I’m in the right place,” she said. “This is my 21st year as an educator. You don’t know how blessed I am.”

Morales had her share of struggles in high school, but said those struggles drove her to achieve her goals.

Now, she and her family members have several college degrees.

“It starts when they’re little bitty,” she said. “My grandson is 8, and I’m already talking with him about where he’s going to get his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”

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