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The Exceptional Guidance Department at High Point Academy


The main purpose of a guidance department is to guide. A comprehensive school counseling program is designed to meet the developmental and personal needs of students and to provide them with opportunities for emotional, social and academic growth. Honor, integrity, service is the motto at High Point Academy and the guidance department is the perfect example of these characteristics. The members of the guidance department include Guidance Director Kim Lilly, Career Counselor Beth Thomas, Family Liaison Sandy Norman, and High School Counselor Michele Bennett.They act together to provide the best advice for the student body. These women believe their job as counselors is to support and encourage students to be happy and be exceptional members of society. They are in charge of career exploration, scholarships, and internships. These outstanding women care deeply for the students at High Point Academy; they go above and beyond to assist and make sure all the students are comfortable. They are compassionate and patient and this creates a safe environment for students. They love helping children and families. These women stand to make a difference in the lives of students knowing that they can support and help the students at High Point Academy.

The school’s guidance department’s main purpose is to bring awareness concerning school violence and to educate others on how to recognize warning signs, helping facilitating and cultivating a caring school culture that embraces others. The HPA’s guidance department describes being good counselors as playing a vital role in maximizing student achievement. To
maximize student’s achievements, they often help students pick careers beyond high school, help with any social or mental health issues that can occur, give tips on how to manage schoolwork, while always supporting teachers, parents, and students. The guidance department incorporates leadership, advocacy, and collaboration, professional school counselors promote equity and access to opportunities and rigorous educational experiences for all students.


The guidance department believes in recognizing the dignity and worth of every student. Their focus is on the students, believing that all students have the innate desire to be appreciated and do well. The guidance department makes it their priority to develop relationships with students and parents, based on mutual respect, honesty, and understanding. It is foremost to challenge students in their thinking, helping them to set and reach goals and explore life’s options. They
help students reveal both their strengths and weakness and most importantly they help students to imagine and dream of whom they want to become. The department makes sure to always be compassionate, unbiased, and willing to grow in knowledge to help students. They are willing to listen and always there to help. The guidance department has formed a close-knit family. They have worked above and beyond normal business hours, often working from home when needed, at night when having parent nights, and on weekends to get the job done.

It takes a “village” to help a student with various needs, so working overtime is a necessity. As leading counselors, they try and involve parents in every way possible, by keeping all lines of communication open as much as possible. The team at High Point Academy are innovative leaders. If someone were to go through a horrific trauma, the team would provide unconditional positive regard as they journey through the mountains and valleys of life. Each member has
helped students who have suffered from grief, loss, and mental health issues.



High Point Academy Guidance Department:
Beth Thomas, Kim Lilly, Michele Bennett, Sandy Norman

Beth Thomas, Career Counselor, attended USC Upstate where she received her Bachelor’s Degree and attended Middlebury College to receive her Masters. Previously she has worked as a Middle, High, and as a College English teacher. She has with career exploration in those same schools. Mrs. Thomas has worked in education since 1999 and taught in multiple locations and grades. She states, ‘she has never seen a school who believed so much in the guidance that they actually allowed guidance to do what is most important-guide’. Mrs. Thomas believes in what is called the Humanistic Theory. This theory focuses on emphasizing helping clients achieve their highest potential. She does not stand for excuses; her motto is life’s about choices. People can choose to dwell on their past and let it defeat them and spend their lives blaming others for their misfortune, or they can dig down and find their grit, dust off after being knocked down and fight. She believes in the Fight for life; fight for others who have no voice; fight for change; most of all though, fight for your dreams. Mrs. Thomas tends to surround herself with positive people and being able to actively listen to everyone.

Kim Lilly, Guidance Director, attended North Carolina A &T State University for her Bachelor’s degree and Masters. She previously worked at a Psychiatric hospital, crisis hotline, at an emergency Room for assessments, church, an alternative school, and now currently at High Point Academy. She has worked in private practice as a youth pastor, crisis counselor and in the psychiatric hospital setting. All of this has given her the opportunity to grow. Grow her
compassion for others, and the ability to understand the complexity of issues that can occur in the school setting. She believes what makes her a good counselor is her ability to connecting with others- connect with people from all walks of life, in a meaningful, transformative way. She has learned people struggle with all challenges, but if we learn healthy ways, we will successfully overcome.

Michele Bennett, High school Counselor, attended USC Columbia for her Bachelor’s degree and her Masters from The Citadel. She has worked in the Department of Mental Health, Roper Mountain Science Center as a teacher, Virginia College instructor, Career and School Counselor at Greenville High, Director of Guidance at Brashier Middle College. She has worked as a
mental health counselor and case manager. She has worked for the Department of Mental Health. She taught psychology in the junior college setting. This has given her experience in a school setting as a teacher and counselor. She has experience with working with dual credit students from the high school setting and the junior college setting as well. She feels that all of these experiences have made her unique, but also well-rounded. She is able to bring knowledge to the table to help students as much as possible. Ms. Bennett believes there is always something else to learn and grow from. She has been shaped into understanding the needs in a school system and the different mental health circumstances. While, also understanding the dynamics of how a school works, the needs of teachers, parents, and students is helpful to understanding what situations can occur and how to address them when needed, this is her belief. Also, with her experiences, it has taught her how to be better with time management, which is an essential component to working as a school counselor.

Sandy Norman, family liaison, attended USC Upstate where she received her Bachelor’s degree She has previously worked in Head Start, social worker, library, kindergarten caseworker. She has worked as a teacher, family advocate, and social worker. Working with various organizations and different people makes her a well-rounded person that works in all types of
situations. She is equipped to handle most any situation that may arise in a school counseling setting. She believes herself to be a safe place for people, she is a support system, her character can be described as someone who will love in spite of the circumstances. Ms. Norman makes it her top priority to keep children happy, safe, and healthy. She believes your attitude about life is very important. To her attitude helps students determine the path in life.

Kacia Ramasar

I am currently a senior at High Point Academy where I am a member of the Beta Club. I am an all A's student. I am a certified member of CERT. I participated on the varsity volleyball team. In the future I would like to become a pediatric nurse or work in the medical field.



Heather is the owner of Charlie Mason Entertainment in Upstate South Carolina. Entities include Upstate Exposures Magazine, Charlie Mason Radio, and the Northwest Corner Podcast.

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