McKINNEY (May 16, 2016) — Jennifer Akins leads a busy life at McKinney High School. As lead counselor of the district’s second largest campus, she shares duties with four other counselors and is responsible for the broad range of needs of more than 500 students. The job can be tough at times, but it’s a calling that Akins is passionate about, and she is really good at what she does. Now she has an opportunity to impact the lives of even more students.
After 10 years in the MHS counseling department, Akins has been chosen as McKinney ISD’s new director of guidance and counseling, a position vacated earlier this year when previous director P.J. Holland announced her retirement in December.
“I am so excited that we have hired Jennifer to be our new director of guidance and counseling,” said Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Dr. Melinda DeFelice. “She has always been the go-to counselor in our district, and she is amazing. She is smart, meticulous, organized, possesses outstanding counseling skills and will be a true asset for all counselors and students in MISD.”
After earning bachelor’s degrees in neuroscience and psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1999, Akins began her career in education as a teacher at MHS. In 2006, she completed her Master of Education in School Counseling at Dallas Baptist University and moved into the MHS counseling department. By 2011, she had been chosen as the lead counselor for that campus.
If anything, Akins is passionate about what she does and recognizes the vital part counselors play. “Counselors fill a unique role in the school setting,” she said. “They help students meet personal and social development goals, sustaining students in achieving academic success and encouraging students to purse their dreams. They also provide assistance to administrators, teachers and other staff as they strive to meet the individual needs of their students.”
In addition to her work with students on campus over the past 10 years, Akins has been involved in a host of other professional endeavors to fill out her already busy schedule. In 2011, she completed the requirements to become a licensed professional counselor and started a private practice.
Akins has served on numerous district level committees, and her expertise has been called upon through speaking engagements at local professional development sessions as well as state and national conferences. Akins also designed and taught a summer college and career readiness course for five years at the Texas Governor’s School at the University of North Texas.
“I have an enduring professional interest in cognitive behavioral therapy, intrapersonal neurobiology and mindfulness based counseling approaches,” Akin said. “My pursuit of each of these opportunities has deepened my understanding of the needs of individuals and broadened the range of my abilities with educational and mental health interventions.”
This past November, Akins and fellow MHS Counselor Dr. Jeff Cranmore earned the prestigious 2015 Texas Counseling Association Outstanding Research Award for their work in the area of college and career planning.
For Akins, the transition to a broader role in the district’s counseling department, offers a new opportunity to serve even more students. “Though I am certain I will miss providing direct service to students,” Akin said, “I am confident that in my new role, I will still have an opportunity to create a positive impact by helping our counseling team achieve its mission, and I am excited to work with our amazing team of counselors across the district to implement an exemplary guidance program that benefits the entire MISD community.”
For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About McKinney ISD
One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.