Kathleen Otal, who serves as a school counselor at McLean High School, has been named the 2020 Virginia School Counselor Association (VSCA) Secondary Counselor of the Year.
Otal was recognized by VSCA for having a positive impact for students, their families, and their colleagues; for demonstrating innovation and leadership in counseling; and for providing exceptional service in the community.
Otal has served as a school counselor at McLean High School since 2015, where she has established programs for students in the free and reduced-price lunch program; founded Parent University to help parents support their teens in the college admissions process; sponsored a girls leadership committee; and served as co-leader of the School Equity Team and Collaborative Team.
McLean assistant principal Sean Rolon praised Otal for helping parents navigate the transition from high school to college, and for also providing support to new staff members. McLean director of student services Paul Stansbery said she’s a dedicated professional with a positive spirit.
To make students in need feel more connected to the school, Otal applied for a grant from the PTSA to purchase McLean gear, warm clothing for the winter, computers for those who could not afford them, and fees for senior dues, prom, and the all-night grad party. To combat stress and anxiety, she advocates working with students and families at a younger age.
Otal, who has worked as a school counselor since 1994, served at Brookfield Elementary School and in Loudoun County Public Schools and Texas before joining the staff at McLean. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of William and Mary and a master’s in counselor education from Virginia Commonwealth University.