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Surprise! San Diego County's High School 'Counselor of the Year' is ambushed with love

The Mission Hills High counselor was told she'd be giving a presentation, instead, she won a $500 prize.

SAN MARCOS, Calif. — It's hard to keep a surprise celebration a secret, but it sure is fun when you pull one off. In this Zevely Zone, I was invited to Mission Hills High School in San Marcos where Mum was the word. Photojournalist Scott Hall and I were invited to participate in a secret mission. Dozens of educators started gathering at Mission Hills High School for the ruse.

Credit: KFMB TV

"She has no idea," said Mission Hills Assistant Principal Nathan Baker with a smile. National School Counseling Week starts on Feb. 1 and counselor Cherryl Baker was told to come to campus and give a presentation. 

Instead, when she walked in the door, she was greeted with these words,"Cherryl Baker has been selected as the San Diego County High School Counselor of the Year Award," said Tanya Bulette with a huge round of applause. Tanya is from the San Diego County Office of Education and she presented a check for $500. "When we saw her application, it stood out. It was incredible not only for the work she does here in San Marcos and at Mission Hills High School but for what she does in the community," said Tanya.

Credit: KFMB TV

Cherryl's fellow counselors Eric Cruz and Kathleen Goldstein agreed. "She puts her heart into everything she does," said Eric. "She cares so much about the students and the whole entire community," said Kathleen.  

The Mayor of San Marcos, Rebecca Jones, offered her congratulations with a taped video. Cherryl's husband Andy and son Brendan were also in on the surprise, too. "We lied and said we wanted to go get donuts, ha, ha," they said.  

"I'm very proud of my mom," said Brendan. "She works until midnight, she has worked since July during the pandemic and every decision she makes is about students," said Andy.  

Credit: KFMB TV

"I'm surprised," said Cherryl who even in her moment of celebration was thinking about her students. "There is support and there is help and whatever you are going through it's temporary and you are loved," said Cherryl.

I had to ask here how she planned to spend all of that money? She decided then and there to create a senior scholarship and donate the money to a student. "I think so, I think I'll do that," said Cherryl.

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She is all heart which is exactly why, the mastermind of this surprise set all this up. "You are always celebrating students' accomplishments, you are always celebrating staff accomplishments and it's your time to be celebrated too," said Lezya Weglarz a fellow counselor.

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Cherryl, who held her emotions in check the entire ceremony could not hold the tears back any longer. I said, "She got you Cherryl." The "High School Counselor of the Year' laughed and said, "She did. I almost made it, I almost made it."

Cherryl is one of three counselors in San Diego County to win this year's award. The other two counselors will represent elementary schools and middle schools.


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