Amanda Yearwood

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette stands with West Point High School Counselor Amanda Yearwood and her plaque for state Counselor of the Year during Tuesday’s meeting.

West Point High School counselor Amanda Yearwood has been named the Alabama School Counselors Association’s High School Counselor of the Year.

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette recognized Yearwood for the honor during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Cullman County School Board.

The ALSCA recognizes the state’s counselor of the year as someone who exemplifies the organizations goals to further students’ career and academic success and social and emotional development, and the system is blessed to have Yearwood win the award in 2020 after already winning it one other time in 2014, he said. 

Yearwood said she was happy to be recognized for her work among all of the other counselors in Cullman County and across Alabama. 

“There are really so many wonderful counselors in our system and across the state, and it’s just an honor to basically be a representation of that,” she said. “It is a great honor to represent our state.”

Yearwood also gave credit to her mentors who have provided guidance to her over the course of her career, including Karen Pinion and Diane Barnett, and said their support has been a big reason for the successes she has had. 

“I’ve had some great opportunities with our leadership in our schools and in our school district that have allowed me to do the things I’ve done,” she said.

In other business, Barnette provided an update on one of the system’s required COVID-19 precautions after board member Heath Allbright reached out to him with concerns about its effect on the system.

As part of the state’s preventative measures for COVID-19, any student or staff member who spends at least 15 minutes within a six-foot radius of someone who gets sent home with COVID-19 symptoms also has to be sent home and isolated. 

“It is a little aggravating that even if you’re wearing a mask, if you’re within six feet for 15 minutes or more, you still have to quarantine,” he said. “I would love to see that eventually change. I don’t see that changing any time soon.”

Allbright said the state’s policy is sending students and teachers home when they aren’t showing any symptoms themselves, which is adversely affecting the education that schools are meant to be providing. 

“It’s a shame that we’re sending people home that don’t even have a sniffle,” he said. “I don’t know how we could change that, but losing faculty members and support staff when they even have a negative test is ridiculous to me.”

Allbright said the state’s mandate is making it impossible for schools to function properly, and he would like to see a better way of working through the pandemic without sending healthy teachers home.  

“We just need our people in our schools teaching our kids, and we need our kids in schools learning,” he said. “The way that the state has it now is almost impossible to do so.”

Tyler Hanes can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext. 238.

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